"I had some victory that was just failure in deceit.
Now the joke's coming up, through the soles of my feet.
I've been a long time walking on fortune's cane;
Tonight's I'm sleeping lightly and I ain't feeling no pain.
Well here's to your good looks baby! Now here's to my health!
Here's to the loaded places that we take ourselves!
When it comes to luck? You make your own.
And tonight I got dirt on my hands, but I'm building me a new home.
I'm going down to Lucky Town!
Down to Lucky Town!
I'm gonna lose these blues I've found,
Down in Lucky Town!!!"
-- "Lucky Town" by Bruce Springsteen.
Today, the Chiefs introduced "Fat" Andy Reid as their thirteenth head coach in franchise history. Based simply on his fourteen years piloting the Eagles efforts, he arrives in town as (at worst) the second best coaching hire at the time of his hire, trailing only Dick Vermeil.
(Yes, I know Marv Levy and Hank Stram turned in Hall of Fame careers, and Marty should be considered for enshrinement in Canton ... but neither entered the job with 130 wins under his belt.)
And today, I've rarely been as disappointed in this team, as I am right now.
This is one gigantic mistake. Pun intended.
Look it, Andy Reid should have success in Kansas City. I mean, good grief, half the previous guys we've hired have coached at least one playoff game during their time on the job here -- Hank Stram, John Mackovic, Marty Schottenheimer, Dick Vermeil, Herm Edwards, and Todd Haley. (The six who didn't: Paul Wiggin, Tom Bettis, Marv Levy, Frank Gansz, Gunther Cunningham, and Romeo Crennel.) Reid's track record suggests that by January 2014, the Chiefs will be playing on wildcard weekend, that by January 2015, the Chiefs will be hosting a game on wildcard weekend, and that by January 2017, Lamar's Trophy will finally come home.
Which is exactly what we all thought would happen when Dick Vermeil came to town. Five years, one playoff berth, and zero postseason wins later, Vermeil realized it wasn't going to happen, and retired.
Honestly, this is what I thought would happen with Herm Edwards came to town. Look it, I have an irrational love for that guy. You'd have to be a Jets fan to understand it I guess. I still think Scott Pioli's biggest mistake of his regime, was his first major decision -- not keeping Herm as head coach. (Or hiring Mike Shanahan, instead of Todd Haley.)
Herm lasted three years, each worse than the previous, before receiving his walking papers.
And of course, isn't this what we all thought would happen when Scott Pioli arrived? The man's first press conference, he talked about the "multiple" Lombardi's the Chiefs would win on his watch. That didn't happen.
Everyone remembers Carl's infamous "Five Year Plan" ... and he came damned close to pulling it off, reaching the AFC Title Game in 1993 (year five), and winning 13 games and earning home field advantage in 1995 and 1997. That loss in Buffalo to close the 1993 season, was the beginning of the seven game postseason losing streak that is still intact today.
Maybe I'm just too cynical to believe anymore. But listening to Reid's introductory press conference today, listening to his words and Clark Hunt's words, I couldn't help but think "I've heard this before". It's why this hire so infuriates me. This is what the Chiefs have done for pretty much every major hire since Gunther Cunningham got his shot at the head gig -- go out, toss a sh*t ton of money at the "big name" on the market, and then wind up with buyer's remorse, and watch as an already frustrated fanbase just grows more frustrated.
If stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result, then the Chiefs are the stupidest franchise in the League. It's why I wanted this team to take a chance on someone with unfulfilled potential (like Hue Jackson), instead of once again doubling down on a veteran guy who hit his peak a few years ago.
I've seen many people compare this hire to when Marty Schottenheimer was hired in January 1989. Guys? This hire is NOT Marty Part II. For starters, Marty was coming off three straight playoff appearances, and was fired because (gasp) he lost at home in the wildcard round after two straight AFC Championship Game defeats to the denver broncos. Andy Reid hasn't won a playoff game in five years, and has missed the playoffs (and posted a non-winning record) three of the last four seasons. Marty was Carl Peterson's third choice, accepting the job after Steve Spurrier (smart decision) and Vince Tobin (idiotic decision) turned down the job. Andy Reid was the only credible, realistic candidate the Chiefs spoke to.
Furthermore, a proven football guru, a man who had a Super Bowl berth (with the Eagles) and two USFL championships on his resume (with the Philadelphia / Baltimore Stars), Carl Peterson, is the man who hired Marty, and ran the process in 1989. Clark Hunt is an extremely intelligent man. He would be the first to tell you, however, that he's not a "football guru". It's why he defers so much responsibility for this franchise to the men he hires to run it.
Chiefs fans? Clark Hunt just hired a man who turned over the defensive coordinator position for a year and a half ... to his long-time offensive line coach. A move, a decision, that pretty much single handedly got him fired from his previous job in this League.
Me and a few good friends had an email debate going last week over this hire. One of them, my buddy "bts", thought he trumped my desire for hiring a bright up-and-coming mind with his "Todd Haley" rebuttal. Sorry readers, but I'd rather have Todd Haley than Andy Reid. The Chiefs didn't lose because Todd Haley was on the sideline. The Chiefs lost because their general manager botched the only position on the roster you cannot afford to botch. And yet despite how craptacularly poorly Scott Pioli built the quarterback position into? Haley knocked the broncos out of the playoffs in the 2009 finale, won the division in 2010, and despite it all last year, the Chiefs were a missed field goal away from winning the AFC West again. I'd say that's a pretty solid argument FOR hiring the up-and-coming offensive mind, over the past-his-prime coaching retread.
Having noted everything above ... there is one thing keeping me from coming completely unhinged*. And it is this:
No matter how awful Reid's playcalling skills are (atrocious), no matter how inept he is at managing the clock (he makes Herm look competent), no matter how clueless he is with the replay / challenge system (he makes Vermeil look competent) ... you gotta admit -- the man knows how to coach the quarterback position.
And go figure -- the quarterback position is THE broken position on this team.
(*: only one censored word so far! And I'm on page 4 in Word!!!)
His big break in the League, was being hired to be the 49ers quarterbacks coach. In 1990, nobody knew what exactly Steve Young would bring to the table, and in 1991, as both Young and Joe Montana missed huge stretches of the season with various injuries (Montana would miss all of 1991, and most of 1992), Reid managed to make Steve Bono look like a NFL caliber quarterback. (I'm sure you all are prepping your "thanks for that, Coach Reid!" cards as you read this.)
When Mike Holmgren got the Packers job in 1992, he took Reid along with him. He spent the next six years mentoring a couple promising young quarterbacks you may have heard of: Brett Favre, and Mark Brunell. When he got the job in Philadelphia, Reid's first draft pick was some dude named Donovan McNabb. At various times in his tenure in Philadelphia, he made AJ Feeley and Kevin Kolb millionaires, he revitalized Michael Vick's career, he won a division with Jeff Garcia under center, and had Nick Foles looking like a potential answer to the question of "who's our quarterback" at stretches this season.
Color me optimistic, when Reid noted that his top priority this offseason is "to find the next Len Dawson" during his introductory presser today, that it'll happen. I like that he's aiming high -- to be honest, I'd settle for the next Damon Huard at this point, that would be so tremendous of an upgrade over what we've got.
I guess, at the end of the day, if there's one thing I do believe in, it's that Andy Reid will land this franchise a franchise quarterback. And if he lands us "the next Len Dawson", then it won't matter what I think about the hire, because it's going to be an amazing, smashing success. Reid arrived in Philadelphia to clean up a decade of disaster that Buddy "You've Got a Winner In Town" Ryan, Rich Kotite, and Ray Rhodes had unleashed on the franchise. Not even 36 months later, the Eagles were one of the last four teams standing, had their franchise quarterback in place, and began a run of success unlike anything the Chiefs have ever enjoyed -- from 2000-2008, the Eagles made the playoffs seven times, won at least one game in the postseason in all seven appearances, made five NFC Championship games (including four in a row from 2001-2004), and reached Super Bowl XL, where they took New England to the final play before falling just short.
If "Fat" Andy Reid accomplishes even half of that during his tenure here, then this is the best hire in franchise history. Not the most important -- that was Carl Peterson, who when coupled with Marty Schottenheimer, saved the NFL in Kansas City. But Carl was a no doubt about it hire. There was zero doubt whatsoever that Carl (and Marty) would right the ship, because they'd never failed at a thing. Everything they'd touched prior to that 1989 season, had immediately improved.
If the Andy Reid of 1999-2008 is who Clark Hunt hired, then Arrowhead will once again be the funnest place to watch a game in the metropolitan area. But ... I can't help but fear, that we just hired the Andy Reid of 2009-2012.
All I truly know about the hire, is that Clark Hunt has dirt on his fingers, and he's building a new home. And no matter what I think of the "foundation" he imported today, it's a complete 180 degree improvement, over the rotted baseboards tossed in the dumpster last week. And for that, we can all be thankful ...
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