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Andy Reid's attention to detail fuels Kansas City Chiefs' revival

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For Andy Reid, the differences appear in the details.

And the details show up in places like a Thursday morning walkthrough during a playoff week.

That's where offensive lineman Branden Albert saw the Reid who had ceased to exist in Philadelphia last year, and was reborn in Kansas City this season as a successor to Hank Stram's throne. The former Eagles coach halted the team's brisk early morning practice when he saw his left tackle's technique slip, promptly lining up to demonstrate where Indianapolis Colts defensive end Cory Redding might be in Saturday's AFC wild-card matchup.

"I'm a sixth-year player -- (Reid) stopped practice and taught me on a coaching point," Albert explained. "He told me how to block the play, and then I executed the play during practice. He does things like that. He wants guys to be on point. You gotta appreciate that. And I want to make sure the play he taught me to do, that I'm doing it right."

For Reid, coming to Kansas City -- Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of his agreement to head West -- has been about taking on less, so he can return to doing more. At heart, Reid has always been a coach. Now, he really gets to be one again.

"It's different (from Philly in) that (general manager) John Dorsey does all the personnel stuff," Reid said Thursday during a private moment. "I'm not involved in that at all. That dynamic is quite a bit different, that would've been like when I first got to Philadelphia.

"And I," Reid paused and smiled broadly, "I'm good with that."

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So far, the Chiefs are good with it, too, carrying a nine-win turnaround into a playoff game against Indianapolis and reaching the franchise's best record in a decade.

For the 55-year-old coach, who went through just about everything imaginable personally and professionally -- and who swears he loved the intensity of all of it -- during his 14 years with the Eagles, Kansas City has provided him the chance to reset without retreating. He went unemployed for just four days, but was able to change plenty in the process.

As he tells it, the framework for the Chiefs' success wasn't his doing. That he credits to Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who hired Dorsey -- Reid's close friend whom he'd tried to bring to Philadelphia a couple times to supplement a strong front office -- and set the structure. 

"I was lucky enough where Clark had talked to a few people -- he's the one who did that," Reid said. "It wasn't me hiring John Dorsey. John's résumé speaks for itself. That was Clark. And honestly, when I tried to hire John, I couldn't hire John. He didn't want to leave Green Bay. But his wife's from here, and that was the missing piece. She's got family here, and it was a fit. And he loves Kansas City."

Hunt, Reid continued, has "always had a general manager, his father had a general manager, and that's what he wanted. And I was all in. I was all in."

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The Chiefs chairman tweaked the team's structure this year to allow for more open communication. Instead of the coach reporting to the GM, and the GM reporting to Hunt, both now report to him.

Reid has been freed of the enormous amount of responsibility he had in Philadelphia, where he had gradually ceded key on-field and classroom duties to trusted offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg as his role shifted closer to that of a general manager than a head football coach.

By the end, he said, "I'd turned everything over to Marty, who did a phenomenal job for me and had a great year this year (with the Jets), by the way. I just wanted to get back to doing football. I missed it. And in the offseason, I was spending most of my time -- or, really, all of my time -- doing personnel. And that's when a lot of things take place on the offensive side. Probably a bit selfish, but I love coaching, and I'd taken myself out of it for the most part."

The Albert circumstance from Thursday morning is only one example in a year full of them.

He is calling plays and participating in install meetings every day. He sits in with position groups. He teaches. And he is constantly reminded of how much he missed it.

The result has been a Chiefs offense -- led by MVP candidate Jamaal Charles and "game manager" Alex Smith -- that finished tied for sixth in the NFL in points per game (26.9) and a team that closed the regular season at second in turnover margin (plus-18). Kansas City finished dead last and tied for last in those two categories in 2012 (13.2 points per game and minus-24, respectively).

Of that being a result of Reid's influence, backup QB Chase Daniel said, "It shows in our week-to-week preparation. He's just so detailed. He installs the plays. He's at install every day -- he doesn't miss an install.

"He's the one up there teaching us, and it's very, very detailed. He doesn't miss a thing at practice. He will stop practice if he needs to, in order to go over a little detail. And we might not think it matters, but it shows up later."

Asked for an example, Daniel responded, "There are too many to pick just one."

Are the Chiefs the most talented team in the league? Probably not. But there's a reason why Reid went to four NFC title games in his first six years with the Eagles, and there's also a reason why he accumulated all of that power along the way. It's all on display in how he maximizes the talent, through the work he's doing with assistants Doug Pederson, Brad Childress, Tom Melvin and Matt Nagy.

"The crazy part is, I was close with those kids (in Philadelphia, but the Chiefs) get to see a different side," Reid said. "DeSean (Jackson) never saw me do an install, Brent Celek never saw me do that. You can take any player on that team -- they never saw me get up and talk football that way. Now, I coached them off the field, but they weren't with me when I called the plays. They didn't know that side."

The Chiefs do. And, as it turns out, it's a pretty big part of why they're preparing, to the last detail, to play another week.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer.

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