Welcome to KC Big Red! Like many fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, I received two slightly late Christmas presents last Friday from Chiefs owner Clark Hunt. First, Hunt “parted ways” with the much maligned GM Scott Pioli and quickly followed with an official announcement of the hiring of the new head coach Andy Reid.
Before I get to my take on the Reid hiring I want to take just a second to talk about Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt. Simply put, Clark Hunt proved two things to me this week. First, he is not a cheap owner. Does he care about making money? Of course he does, but all of the owners in the NFL have “make money” at or near the top of their priority list. Clark Hunt has had to make two major hires since he took control of the team. Four years ago he made Scott Pioli one of the top paid GMs in the sport and now he has done the same with Andy Reid. Clark Hunt could have fired Pioli and Crennel and replaced them with a MUCH cheaper option than Reid and would still have been a hero to most in KC. Instead, between Reid’s payday and the buyouts of Pioli and Crennel Clark Hunt ponied up a hefty sum to get what he wanted. Which gets me to my second point…
Clark Hunt gets his man. Period.
Four years ago he wanted the best GM on the market, he wanted Scott Pioli. Clark Hunt got him. This year with reports buzzing that Andy Reid was a lock to land the Arizona Cardinals coaching job Clark Hunt stepped in and said “not so fast my friends”. He loaded up his interview party, flew to Philadelphia, and locked Reid up in an airport conference room for nine hours. By the time they were finally done meeting there was nothing left for Reid to do but go home and explain to his wife why they wouldn’t be making that trip to Arizona (where her family lives).
Maybe the Arizona job was more rumor (floated by his agent) than fact. Maybe the speculation that Reid would be a good fit in San Diego (where Reid owns a home) was purely that, media speculation. In the end it didn’t matter because Clark Hunt wasn’t taking any chances. He wanted Reid and he did what he had to do to get him. Four years ago when the Chiefs hired Todd Haley they were one of the last teams to hire their coach. This time Hunt wasn’t settling for anyone’s leftovers. The Chiefs were the first of the seven teams with openings to make their new hire.
I don’t know if Reid will be successful in Kansas City (I’ll tell you what I think will help in a moment). What I do know is that if he isn’t, I now feel confident that the Chiefs have an owner that will go out and get the best man available to replace him if/when that time comes. That’s really the most important quality a fan can ask for in an owner. Kudos to Clark Hunt.
Now on to my thoughts on the Reid hire.
I like it.
I was on the record as wanting Chip Kelly. The main reasons being that I thought he could give our offense the “jump start” that it needed and would be a good fit with Jamaal Charles (our best player) and Geno Smith (the player I want KC to draft #1 overall). The same can be said about Andy Reid. I know people complain he doesn’t run the ball enough, but JC doesn’t need 30 carries a game and I’d be fine if his touches matched those of LeSean McCoy the past couple of seasons under Reid. He may not come with the same “hype” that Kelly has going right now, but he comes with a MUCH bigger proven NFL track record (of which Kelly has none). His specialty is QBs and the passing game and that is where KC needs the most help. They also needed a big enough name to fill both Romeo’s shoes as HC but also fill part of the void left by Scott Pioli as the “head” of the football organization. Once again Reid fills that roll. So I am happy with the hire. (Side Note: with the announcement of Chip Kelly staying at Oregon and no signs that Gruden or Cowher are going to go back to coaching the Reid hire starts to look all the better.)
The question of the hour then becomes will Andy Reid be able to win in KC? I think that will rely on two key decisions that Reid will make in the next 4 months:
Who will be his QB?
Who will be his defensive coordinator?
The QB part of the equation is obvious. We all know KC has been horrible at QB for a while. We all know you need a good QB to win in the NFL. We all know that Andy Reid gets the most out of the QBs that he has. The problem that I have is with the opinion that I am seeing in the national media that KC should pass on a QB in the first round and take one in the 2nd round. The thought being that since Reid has made lesser talent like AJ Feely and Kevin Kolb look good, there is no sense in using the first overall pick to reach for a QB.
I couldn’t disagree more. When were Andy Reid’s Eagle teams really good? The answer, when they had a Pro Bowl caliber QB in Donovan McNabb. A QB that Reid drafted #2 overall when he first arrived in Philadelphia. You can talk all you want about Reid’s family issues and players “tuning him out” because he’d been there so long, but the fact that he was “getting by” with QBs that he was coaching up like Kevin Kolb, Mike Vick, and Nick Foles had just as much to do with it. When was the last time Reid’s Eagles were good? When Mike Vick played at a Pro Bowl level in 2010. I don’t want the Chiefs to draft a Kevin Kolb or Nick Foles that Reid can coach up to “good enough”. Does anyone want our starting QB to be just “good enough” or “someone you can get by with”?
I have absolutely 0% interest in that. I also have 0% interest in trading for Kolb or Matt Flynn to start until Reid can coach up some 2nd or 3rd round pick. I want Reid to draft his McNabb with the first overall pick. I understand that all the “experts” don’t think this draft has an Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. I don’t care. Nobody thought Donovan McNabb was a sure thing when Reid drafted him. Philly fans HATED the pick at the time, but Reid identified the QB in that draft that had the physical tools to succeed in his system and drafted him. That is exactly what he should do with the Chiefs. I believe that QB will be Geno Smith, but if Reid likes Tyler Wilson or Matt Barkley then I trust Reid’s opinion on the matter way more than my wanna be scout, watching clips on YouTube, Armchair Addict self.
If you’re still not sold on a 1st round QB, I urge you to read THIS ARTICLE by RotoWorld’s Eric Stoner. He went back and looked at 10 years worth of drafts (2001-2010) and the QBs that were drafted in those drafts. He broke the QBs into four tiers: 1.Elite Franchise QBs, 2.Good Starting QBs, 3.Functional QBs, and 4.Backup or Worse.
Of the 13 QBs drafted that Stoner classified in Tiers 1 and 2, 11 of them were drafted in the 1st round of the draft. The only 2 QBs that he classified as a Tier 1 or Tier 2 QB that were drafted after the 1st round were Drew Brees (2nd round) and Matt Schaub (3rd round) and neither of them are playing for the team that drafted them.
Stoner does point out that recent draft picks Andy Dalton and Russel Wilson could help those numbers, but he left the two most recent drafts out of the study because he felt it was too early to judge some of the QBs this soon.
The fact remains that in a decade of NFL drafts from 2001-2010 there were 22 QBs taken in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Of those 22, only Brees and Schaub were Tier 1 or Tier 2 QBs. That’s 9% of the QBs drafted in that decade. Only four (18%) of the 22 QBs taken in the 2nd/3rd round even made it as a Tier 3 “functional” QB (Kevin Kolb, Chad Henne, Tavaris Jackson, and Colt McCoy). The other 16 QBs (72%) were all backup caliber QBs or complete busts. So history says that if you take a QB in the 2nd/3rd round these are your odds:
1 in 22 (4.5%) will be an elite franchise QB
1 in 22 (4.5%) will be a good starting QB
4 in 22 (18.2%) will be a functional QB
16 in 22 (72.7%) will be a backup or worse
This is why KC MUST draft a QB in the first round, even with Andy Reid as the coach.
How do those odds change if you get the first QB taken in the entire draft? Take a look:
1 in 10 (10%) is an elite franchise QB (Eli Manning)
4 in 10 (40%) are/were good starting QBs (Mike Vick, Carson Palmer, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford)
2 in 10 (20%) are/were functional QBs (Alex Smith, Sam Bradford)
3 in 10 (30%) are/were backups or worse (David Carr, Vince Young, Jamarcus Russell)
(Keep in mind, those classifications are Stoner’s not mine and one could debate what Tier some of those guys belong on, but it doesn’t change the results drastically)
Now, admittedly history says there is a 50% chance that the first QB taken will only be a functional QB or worse. However, the other side of that is that 50% of the first QBs taken in the draft are either elite or good starting QBs compared to only 9% of 2nd/3rd round QBs. That’s an increase of 41%. Given Reid’s track record with getting the most out of the QBs he has I like KC’s chances of ending up on the good side of that 50/50 split.
Anyone think that might just be part of the reason Clark Hunt made sure Reid was his guy? The QB position is just too important for Kansas City to put off and will have too much of an impact on Reid’s success for him to wait to pull the trigger until the 2nd round.
Stoner also pointed out that only two teams took a non-QB with the first overall pick (Houston with Mario Williams and Miami with Jake Long) during that time span. Both of those picks were successful, but Houston still didn’t feel like Williams was worth the price to re-sign and Miami may do the same thing with Jake Long this offseason. Do you see any teams letting a good QB walk to save cap space? What does that tell you about the value of the first pick when it comes to QBs and non-QBs?
The other major decision that will impact Reid’s success will happen much sooner (perhaps even today?) and that is who he will name defensive coordinator. This is important on two fronts. First, hiring a DC that would change to a traditional 4-3 would probably mean that KC would have more holes to fill on defense. That would mean it would take longer to get up and running and KC would have less draft picks and FA money to spend on fixing the offense and getting Reid the players he needs on that side of the ball. This had me 100% convinced that we should stay with the 3-4. Not with the current 2-gapping system, but with an attacking 1-gap blitzing 3-4 like Pittsburgh runs. However, after reading THIS ARTICLE about the similarities in front seven responsibilities in the 3-4 that KC runs and some 4-3s I will be opened minded about whoever they hire until we find out how they plan on using our current players.
The other reason the DC is so important is that getting pressure on the opposing QB is just as important to Reid’s success as having a good QB. Just like Reid’s best years came with great QB play, they also came when they sacked the QB. In Reid’s 14 seasons in Philly he only had three losing seasons. He also only had three seasons where his defense didn’t rank in the top 10 in sacks. Guess what? They are the same three seasons. In the three seasons where his defense wasn’t in the top 10 in sacks his teams were 15-33. In the seasons where they were in the top 10 in sacks they were 130-93-1.
You want to know how KC has ranked in sacks the past five seasons? Their average ranking is 26th. Yes, we have a couple of solid pass rushers in Hali and Houston but the new defensive coordinator must find a way to get more constant pressure on the QB. For many years in Philly he had that DC in Jim Johnson. After his tragic loss to cancer, Reid struggled to replace him. Last year the Eagles finished with the second lowest sack total of his tenure with the team. Reid must find the right guy to attack opposing QBs if he wants to recapture the success he had in Philadelphia.
If Andy Reid can do those two things, if he can succeed in finding a QB and a good defensive coordinator then I think what is already a great hire by Clark Hunt may just end up being a Super Bowl caliber hire.
Here’s to hoping.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!