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  • Brian Baldinger


Brian Baldinger

Andy has been the head football coach of two NFL franchises covering 21 years and a total of 366 games. Thirty of the 366 games have been post-season games and many of those have ended in heartache.

Prior to #SBLIV, Andy Reid has been on the losing side of five Championship games and one Super Bowl.

Would he become the league's winningest head coach to never win a Super Bowl? Could he build a coaching tree that have seen seven former assistants move onto head coaching jobs not to mention countless executives, video staff, trainers. and front office personnel and yet be tagged with , BUT he couldn't win the big one. So much success for Andy Reid on so many levels but could he ever shun the tag.

I have news for everyone reading this column. No one can win the big one until they win the big one.

Hail to Andy Reid; Hail to the Chiefs.

Andy Reid never has to hear that spoken about the TAG again. The best thing about winning the big one is that no one can ever take it away from you.

How did he do it? What allowed Andy Reid in his 366th game to get to the mountaintop?

In my estimation three very important things had to take place for this to happen. Lets examine those milestones and then examine how they fit in the Chiefs claiming their second Super Bowl title in 50 years.

Brett Veach, prior to his ascendancy to the GM of the Chiefs, is given much credit to watching Patrick Mahomes as a starter for the Texas Tech Red Raiders well before his senior season. He routinely sent cut-ups or sent clips of Mahomes making incredible throws from all of the field that showcased his immeasurable talent.

Often times Mahomes would lead the Red Raiders to 40 and 50 point outburst only to get beat in the Big !2 by a number of teams that couldn't be stopped. It didn't stop Mahomes from launching rockets in to the the Lubbock skies trying to find a way to win.

Andy Reid finally got his ring. Photo by Contrast Photography

Finally, after almost three years of Reid being badgered by Veach that this QB was an unusual talent, Reid was ready to make the bold move during the 2017 draft to jump from draft position No. 27 to No. 10, one spot in front of the New Orleans Saints who were strongly considering drafting the replacement of Drew Brees.

Andy Reid has been around a lot of highly drafted winning quarterbacks since he entered the NFL with Mike Holmgren in 1992. He would eventually work closely with Brett Favre and was instrumental in Favre winning a Super Bowl along with three straight MVP awards. His first pick (No.2 overall) as the newly anointed head coach of the Eagles was Donovan McNabb. McNabb had some great seasons and amassed a lot of personal awards while winning a lot of games.

But in the biggest games he often fell short and as a result the team came out on losing a lot of big championship games

When he was fired in Philadelphia after 14 mostly remarkable seasons, Clark Hunt, and the Chiefs hired him less than five days after his departure from the Eagles. Alex Smith was his quarterback and together they won a lot of games, but fell short in big playoff games.

Smith just wouldn't make the big throw if it risked an interception. The plays that were there to be made just wouldn't get thrown. Smith settled for scrambles and check-downs and as a result they had a lot of heartache to end many Chief seasons.

Enter Mahomes and his talent in 2017 where he sat for the first 15 games watching Alex Smith prepare like the pro's pro that he was. In week 17, Reid started Mahomes against Denver and his talent and fearlessness as a competitor showed through.

Smith would depart for Washington and Mahomes was more than ready to lead. He quickly became the NFL's most exciting player. No lead was safe, especially in this year's playoff run where the Chiefs saw themselves losing by 10 points or more in all three playoff games.

I said there were three people that were instrumental in Andy Reid's success. Brett Veach, Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid removing Bob Sutton as defensive coordinator to hire his former secondary coach in Philadelphia, Steve Spagnola.

Coach Spags sat out of coaching in 2018 after being relieved of his DC duties with the Giants when that staff was let go after an abysmal 2017 season.

Spags was often in my office on Mondays in 2018 just catching up on Film Study while he sat out in his Main Line home outside of Philadelphia with his wife Maria. Spags would study many of the college trends as he would study various NFL teams as well

When Andy Reid made the call to Spags to come and transcend his defense into a championship caliber Spags was up to the challenge. While the Chiefs did not look like a championship caliber for much of the season they played the biggest on the biggest stage.

The 49ers were the biggest challenge and the two weeks of preparation showed up.

With 7:13 left in the 4th quarter the 49ers were clinging to a 20-10 lead and had the Chiefs backed up on their own 35 yard line facing a third and 15.

If the 49ers could stop them on this down the Chiefs would be forced with punting the ball away and likely blow another big game in Andy Reid's career.

Instead Andy called Gun Trey Right, 3 Jet Chip Wasp Y Funnel.

Mahomes would need 3.63 seconds, a near eternity for a QB, to launch a rocket in the thick South Florida air to Tyreek Hill. The pass would travel 56 yards as Deforest Buckner decked Mahomes.

It was the longest air-traveled pass of Mahones' season.

It was the one spark the Chiefs needed. With that unlikely completion, the Chiefs traveled 130 yards on 12 plays to score 2 touchdowns in a total of 4:23. It was the type of aerial assault the the Chiefs had been performing for most of Mahomes two years of starting.

In fact Mahomes is 28-8 as a Chief starter, and in all 8 of his defeats they have all been by 7 points or less.

In other words, Mahomes and the Chiefs are in every game that Mahomes plays in regardless of the score. Even down 24-0 to the Texans at home in the divisional playoff round was not enough of a lead to roar back from as we all witness a jaw-dropping exhibition of offensive football.

But it was Spags who made subtle changes throughout the season that would eventually keep the 49ers to 20 points.

And the vaunted rushing attack that saw them annihilate the Vikings and Packers did not look so efusive in Super Bowl 54. They got Jimmy Garroppolo backed up and when he had to make the big throw he was unable to do it.

The blitzes and coverages that the 49ers saw rattled the offense enough for them to never get rolling as we had witnessed so many times throughout the season.

One observation about Andy and his amazingly talented quarterback that you may or may not have noticed. Ever since his week 17 start in 2017 against Denver, after every offensive series, Andy leaves his position on the sideline to sit with his quarterback to review every series.

I don't see another head coach and QB do this so consistently. They go over what just happened in the last series and begin to prepare for the next one.

Mahomes has a great deal of input and the dialogue that I have listened to is fascinating. Mahomes, ever so polite, greets his head coach with 'Yes sir, and No sir" responses

Andy broke through and won the game that many doubted he could.

It took Bill Cowher 15 years as a Steeler head coach and it took Andy 21 years. But as I have pointed out, there were three very instrumental people, among many many others, that really helped Andy with a milestone breakthrough.

It took the vision of Brett Veach to identify the talent of Mahomes, it took the organization starting with Clark Hunt to OK a blockbuster trade during the 2017 NFL draft to secure Mahomes.

And it took a difficult decision to relieve Bob Sutton of his DC duties and replace him with a willing and able Steve Spagnola to pull the defense together to become a championship caliber defense.

And the future looks exceedingly bright for the Chiefs. Mahomes is only 24 and wants to get better. They have at least another year on his rookie deal if they want to maximize their cap this year to keep certain veterans in place.

That will largely fall in the capable hands of Veach with input from Andy. All of that will take care of itself over the next five months. In the meantime the Chiefs and Andy Reid get a little more time to soak in the glory of an amazing run and a coach that every now knows, is very capable of winning the Big One. Maybe even another Big One.

Nice job Big Red! *

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