Through a 24-year career as an NFL head coach, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid has built an impressive coaching tree — and as his former coaches move on to head coaching jobs of their own, Reid continues to mentor young assistants from the ground up.
One of those is Kansas City’s new wide receivers coach Connor Embree, who spoke to reporters on Thursday about what it’s like to learn from one of the best teachers in league history.
“There’s a standard,” Embree said of Reid’s coaching style. “It’s not just for the players. It’s [for] the coaches, too — and you learn that fast. It’s either, ‘You’re out’ or ‘You’re coming up to the standard.’
“But like I said, it’s been great learning from obviously one of the greatest — or the greatest — coaches there’s been in the league. I always joke, ‘He’s forgotten more football than I’ll probably ever learn.’ So he’s been a great mentor — and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Embree certainly has the experience and background to be an NFL coach. His father Jon Embree (and his grandfather John Embree) are both former NFL players. Dad is the tight ends coach of the Miami Dolphins, while his brother Taylor is the running backs coach of the New York Jets. Both of them have also served on Kansas City coaching staffs — Jon under Herm Edwards in the mid-2000s and Taylor under Reid in 2016.
A 2010 graduate of Blue Valley West in suburban Kansas City — where he played as a defensive back and quarterback — Connor spent his freshman year of college at UNLV before transferring to Kansas. There he played running back.
He coached for Blue Valley West, Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado and KU before joining the Chiefs as a defensive assistant in 2019. Last season, served as an offensive quality control coach who primarily worked with the team’s wide receivers.
“Yeah, I’m young — but I’ve been around [coaching] my whole life,” Embree explained. “My dad’s been in this business. My brother is a coach for the Jets. My uncle is a high school coach out in Santa Margarita, California.
“It’s just always been in my blood. I grew up wanting to be a coach. Coach Reid puts a lot on us — the behind-the-scenes type of people. I [have] learned a lot. I’ve had a bunch of great coaches to learn under — and it’s just been fun.”
Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy — now on his second stint as a Kansas City assistant — noted that one of Reid’s unseen routines is to hand younger assistant coaches significant responsibilities during the offseason, giving them valuable experience for the bigger roles to come.
“What better way to interview for that type of position than doing it every day in [the] role that you’re in [over] the last couple of years?” asked Nagy. “So Connor has great strengths. He’s going to grow like all of us every year.”
But Embree says he knows he has to keep learning in every way he can — a lesson he imparts to his players.
“I try to take something from everyone,” he said. “I tell the receivers [to be] the same way: ‘When you’re watching film, don’t just watch the defense. Watch the other receivers and see what they’re doing.’
“So I try to take whatever I can — and still be myself — but I try to take whatever I can because I’m always learning.
“That’s one thing I learned from Coach Reid. [When] he’s in install meetings — and when someone’s up there — he’s taking notes. So if he’s taking notes, I’m taking notes.”
Embree says that Reid’s resume speaks for itself.
“There’s a standard being in the NFL,” he noted. “Then there’s a standard if you want to win Super Bowls and go to five consecutive AFC championships [and] NFC championships like he did.
“There’s a reason he’s done it there, here and all over. He’s done it, so why not follow him?”