When David Culley, a longtime assistant, followed Andy Reid from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 2013, Reid knew that it might not necessarily be a long-term situation because Culley, then 57, still had aspirations of being a head coach.
“We talked about that before he came,” Reid said at the Pro Bowl this week.
Even though Culley had spent the previous 14 years as Reid’s receivers coach in Philadelphia, he took the same title in Kansas City, despite the fact a job coaching quarterbacks was probably the next step toward that goal. Reid wanted to hire then 34-year-old Matt Nagy for the position, but he did give Culley the assistant head coach title as a way to recognize his contributions to the staff. Reid also made Culley a promise: He would not stand in the way if someone eventually came knocking with the right opportunity.
“I said any opportunity you get where a team you want to go to will make you their quarterback coach or coordinator, you just let me know — that’s the relationship we have,” Reid said. “So that’s what he did.”
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The Chiefs granted Culley permission to speak to Buffalo, and on Monday, news broke that Culley — who last coached quarterbacks in an official capacity in 1988, when he was at Southwestern Louisiana — was leaving to become the quarterbacks coach of the Bills under new coach Sean McDermott, who was also a former assistant under Reid.
“He came to me, asked me about it — he knows Sean very well, he knows it’s a good situation,” Reid said. “Listen, he’s 60 years old — it gives him a chance to do what he wants to do. He was my assistant head coach, but most of all, he’s a good friend. Great guy. Very, very loyal. He was my guy.”
It did not take Reid long to hire a replacement. He invited former Eagles receiver coach Greg Lewis to join the staff at the Pro Bowl and made the hire official on Wednesday.
Reid said he decided to go with Lewis because he knows him well — Lewis played for him in Philadelphia from 2003 to 2008 — and likes his personality and knowledge of the game.
“Greg’s a good teacher — he’s been there, done it as a player,” Reid said. “He’s always told me when he was a player that someday he wanted to get into coaching, and I told him I thought that was a good direction.
“He’s got that personality; he’s a hard worker, but he can lighten it up, too. He’s a pretty funny guy and can be very serious at the same time, and he always knew his stuff.”
Reid said Lewis, who was not made available to speak, has done a nice job acclimating himself with the rest of the staff this week.
“I brought him down here for that, just to ease him into it, and he knows a lot of the coaches here on the offensive side,” Reid said. “It allows him to just become familiar with what we’re doing, even though we’re really not doing much in this game.”
Reid said he has no timetable to give someone the assistant head coach title, either by promotion or new hire.
“I’ve gone years without assistant head coaches, I think,” Reid said. “I don’t have to have that, but it gives you that flexibility. I did that (this time) because it was the highest position I could give David. So we’ll see.”
Reid added that he has not yet made a hire to replace assistant special-teams coach Brock Olivo, who left the staff this month to take the head special teams job at Denver.