Andy Reid became synonymous with Philadelphia, brilliantly leading the Eagles for 14 seasons. The end came in December, at the conclusion of a 4-12 season, the worst of Reid's career. He deserved to be celebrated for his 130-93-1 record and eight seasons of double-digit wins, but after a 12-20 mark over the final two years, it was time for a fresh start.
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Talking to a relaxed and jubilant Reid on SiriusXM's "Schein on Sports," the Kansas City Chiefs' new coach sounded eager to start his first season in the AFC West. After suffering unimaginable personal tragedy last summer, Reid sounds like he's in a good place, quipping, "I've eaten in about 50 Kansas City barbeque places and I haven't found one I don't like."
Reid also tasted success in the 2013 NFL Draft, finding a franchise tackle he liked in No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher. He told me he "started leaning in that direction" two weeks ago. While the Chiefs won just two games in 2012, the cupboard isn't bare; Reid inherited talent. Kansas City has the parts at running back, wide receiver and tight end, a beefed-up offensive line and solid players on defense. The Chiefs simply needed a new leader, a new direction. Reid provides that.
Reid told us, "I've been blessed to have a lot of good quarterbacks in this league. I've had my eye on Alex since he was in college. He was coached up by Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham, (whom) I played with in college. I've talked to these guys. Jim (Harbaugh) put a lot on Alex and he mastered it. He gave him a lot of responsibility. I've seen how he has gotten better every year, every time we played. He's one of the top quarterbacks in the league."
I agree. Smith shares Reid's passion and smarts. He's a perfect fit for Reid's system, with how the coach runs the West Coast offense. I campaigned for Smith to join Reid before the deal and called it a six-win increase after the trade. Smith protects the football and is clutch late in games. He and Reid represent a colossal upgrade from the prior quarterback (Matt Cassel) and coach (Romeo Crennel).
While I think Kansas City and Reid will win at least eight games this year, the Eagles are primed to double their win total and be in the same range.
General manager Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie smartly plucked Chip Kelly to replace Reid. Kelly is a collegiate winner and incredibly bright. Roseman told me Monday on SiriusXM he is very impressed how Kelly prepares and seeks the opinions of his staff. I'm not concerned about Kelly's lack of NFL experience. He is a brilliant X's-and-O's guy. He gets his guys to play hard. Period.
The Eagles have made smart and calculated moves this offseason. The "Dream Team" approach is defunct. I loved the signings of pass rusher Connor Barwin and corner Cary Williams, as well as the fliers on safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung. And I'm a big fan of James Casey, a versatile offensive threat. Kelly and Roseman had a really strong draft. Matt Barkley was great value at quarterback in the fourth round and could be the Eagles' starter in 2014. And Lane Johnson was a no-brainer at No. 4 overall to play tackle for a previously porous offensive line. Roseman raved about Johnson's "athletic ability and experience playing in the Big 12." Somewhere, Mike Vick was smiling.
And listening to Roseman and Reid talk about each other made me smile.
Roseman called Reid a "first-ballot Hall of Famer" and genuinely gushed about what he learned from Reid, on and off the field.
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Reid added, "I'm hoping I can bring something special here. I was happy to get (general manager) John Dorsey. I am so excited to work for Clark and the Hunt family. The atmosphere at Arrowhead is something special. I can't wait for Sundays."
I can't wait either, coach. History rightly will be kind to the Reid legacy in Philly. But now Andy will turn around the Chiefs just like he did with the Eagles. And Chip Kelly will make his mark in the NFL. It's not often these divorces in sports end amicably and benefit everyone involved. But this one will, starting in 2013, with playoff pushes and needed retooling in both Philadelphia and Kansas City.
The Kansas City barbeque and Philly cheesesteaks will taste much better this fall.