Andy Reid was introduced as the new coach of the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, one week after he was fired following four mostly successful seasons in Philadelphia.
The 54-year-old Reid was joined by Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, team president Mark Donovan and several other executives at a packed news conference at Arrowhead Stadium.
He takes over for Romeo Crennel, who went 2-14 in his first full season as coach. Crennel was fired last Monday, the same day that Reid was dismissed following his tenure in Philadelphia that included 130 wins, six division titles and an appearance in the Super Bowl.
”I understand the energy that I have and that I bring to this organization,” said Reid, who wore a red tie adorned with Chiefs logos. ”We’ll start from the bottom and we’ll start working. I’ll bring in a good staff and we’ll get down to what’s important.”
That means helping Hunt to secure a general manager, assembling his coaching staff and then figuring out how to turn around a team coming off the worst season in its 53-year history.
Reid certainly hasn’t wasted any time getting to work, either.
After he received a phone call from Hunt on Monday, Reid managed to secure tape of every game that Kansas City played this season. And he watched every play from all 16 of them, first looking at the offense and then looking at the defense, trying to understand what he’d be walking into.
”When I look at the Chiefs, I look at the bigger picture,” he said. ”What are they about? What are they made of? Every organization goes through a lull, personnel changes, players grow old, they change. Maybe a draft pick here or there didn’t work, a free agent didn’t work. That happens. What’s the grit of the organization?
”I’ve been in this thing long enough to appreciate that,” Reid said. ”I came from a great organization. I wanted to make sure I had that opportunity to be again in a great organization.”
Part of the reason Hunt had the longtime Eagles coach near the top of his wish list as his success in building a franchise. Philadelphia was 3-13 the year before he arrived in 1999, but two years later he went 11-5 and finished second in the difficult NFC East.
The Eagles would win at least 11 games each of the next five seasons, ultimately reaching the Super Bowl following the 2004 season – the high-water mark for the franchise.
”Any time you can get a coach like Andy Reid to coach your team, you’re heading in a good direction,” Hunt said. ”We want to win and we want to win consistently, and that’s something Andy has accomplished throughout his career.”
Until the past couple year, at least.
He was 8-8 last season and just wrapped up a 4-12 campaign marked by unsteady quarterback play and shaky defense. Reid also had a difficult year away from the field – his oldest son, Garrett, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.
Hunt said that he asked Reid over the course of the interview process whether Reid was burned out, but he quickly realized that a change of scenery may be all he needed.
”There was a certain energy that started with Clark and radiated through the other people I met with, and it was just great,” Reid said. ”You got the feeling that this was right. It was the right thing to do. It made the decision easy. I crossed my fingers that I’d be offered the job.”
The hiring process moved far more quickly than it did four years ago, when the Chiefs hired Todd Haley to replace Herm Edwards in the days after the Super Bowl.
Reid had just finished talking to his team in Philadelphia last Monday when he returned to his office and his phone rang. Hunt was on the other end of the line, asking whether they could meet in person on Wednesday for a formal interview.
It was supposed to take about three hours. They wound up speaking for nine.
”It was apparent to both of us from pretty early on that it was a good fit,” Hunt said.
Hunt had brought along Donovan, who had worked with Reid in Philadelphia and provided a sense of familiarity. But he also had inquired about Reid with Dick Vermeil, the former Eagles and Chiefs coach who – coincidentally or not – had spoken with Reid about the job in Kansas City.
”He asked, `Well, can I win there? And I said, `Andy, you can win anywhere,”’ Vermeil said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. ”And I believe with his leadership there, they can once again win there. I think it’s a win.”
The deal was essentially wrapped up by Thursday, when Reid canceled interviews schedule with other teams. He arrived in Kansas City on Friday for a tour of the facilities, signed a five-year deal and then started in earnest with the rebuilding job that he inherited.
”I haven’t done this in 14 years, so I can’t tell you I’m great at it,” Reid said. ”But I wanted to make sure the situation is right. And some of it’s just the philosophy. We have an opportunity to all pull together, and when you do that, that’s good stuff.”