Oct. 18, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly talks with quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the second half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Being Fast vs. Being Right

From a purely public relations and marketing perspective, Clark Hunt gets an A+ since Sunday’s season-ending debacle against the Broncos. What better way to make us Addicts forget the bitter taste of another blow-out loss and perhaps the worst season in franchise history than the undeniable excitement of firings and hirings?

I’m as guilty as anyone. Since Romeo got the ax, I literally haven’t had one thought about gaining just eight first downs and 119 yards while giving up 4 sacks, 32 first downs, 488 yards and 38 points. I’ve only thought once about not leading for eight straight games and having the two of the four lowest rated quarterbacks in the NFL.

Every hour, there are no tweets, rumors and posts about Clark’s hiring plans, with mostly glowing reports about his “take the bull by the horns” approach and his shafting of Scott Pioli. The latest news that has most Chiefs fans abuzz is the prospect of hiring Andy Reid.

I’m opposed to Andy Reid coming to the Chiefs.

I get all the good things being said about Reid: his overall record, his work with Donovan McNabb and his postseason success. I also get all the bad things being said about Reid. He mismanaged the team. His record of late with quarterbacks is a disaster. He has horrendous time management skills. The truth is, any coach worthy of serious consideration will have a track record of both positive and negative characteristics and accomplishments. I do believe Reid is a great coach, but I don’t think he’s the right coach for the Chiefs.

I’m a big fan of the win/loss record as the ultimate metric for a head coach. Reid’s is quite good: 140-102, over 14 seasons (including the postseason). But if you dissect Reid’s record, a different pattern emerges. Let’s take a look at Reid’s cumulative win-loss percentage at different points in his career:

  • 58%: fourteen year career
  • 52%: past five years
  • 45%: past three years
  • 38%: past two years
  • 25%: past year

Clearly (to me at least), Reid’s prowess as a head coach is declining. Nate Silver makes explicit this phenomenon that we all implicitly know so well in The Signal and the Noise, citing baseball genius Bill James, who first posited this theory:

By looking at statistics for thousands of players, James had discovered that the typical player continues to improve until he is in his late twenties, at which point his skills usually begin to atrophy, especially once he reaches his midthirties. This gave James one of his most important inventions: the aging curve.

Silver then adds a critical lesson that Clark would be wise to pay attention to:

The notion of the aging curve would have been extremely valuable to any team that had read James’s work. Under baseball’s contract rules, players do not become free agents until fairly late in their careers: after they’ve played at least six full major league seasons….Since the typical rookie reaches the big leagues at twenty-three or twenty-four years old, he might not become a free agent until he is thirty – just after his window of peak performance has eclipsed. Teams were paying premium dollars for free agents on the assumption that they would replicate in their thirties the production they had exhibited in their twenties; in fact, it usually declined…

This paragraph could have been written about Andy Reid.

Desperation is generally not a good frame of mind to make major decisions. Clark Hunt always looks calm, but you know he’s boiling up inside. Four years ago, he inherited one of the most storied franchises in the history of sports, from the man who practically invented the NFL, who, oh yeah, was his dad. And what has Clarkie done? He’s created a team characterized by change and chaos. That ups the ante considerably on this coaching and GM decision. There is literally zero room for error. I find myself thinking about the 1994 baseball strike. It was a colossal mistake and one that took decades to recover from. If Clark hires another disastrous coach (or GM), it may take years for this team to recover.

Enter Andy Reid. For a person who is desperate, Andy Reid probably looks pretty good. He’s got a track record, the respect of his peers and is the definition of a “safe pick.” But he’s not the right pick for our Chiefs. We know from when Haley was hired that we need to make this decision soon, so the head coach can get a head start on hiring assistant coaches and getting ready for the Combine and the Draft. But that doesn’t mean we need to make the choice now. Let’s do a proper vetting and find a coach who is on the upswing of his career, so we can ensure stability for years to come and a return to the Chiefs that we know and that we want.

What do you think, Addicts? Do you like Reid? And if not, who would you advise?

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