Entirely consistent with Andy Reid’s steadfast and subdued public persona (minus rare exceptions, such as conducting a news conference as Santa Claus), there has been scant, if any, fuss over the fact that as of last Sunday the Chiefs coach ascended into some exclusive territory.
The Chiefs’ victory at Denver was Reid’s 194th overall in the NFL. The combination of 183 regular-season wins and 11 postseason triumphs moved Reid past Chuck Knox as the ninth-winningest coach the league has known.
The Missing Piece notwithstanding, this is skyscraping stuff that no Chiefs fan should take for granted.
For that matter, should the Chiefs beat Tennessee in an AFC Wild Card playoff game on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, Reid will be tied for the seventh-most postseason wins in league history.
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Whatever happens Saturday and beyond, Reid has been gold for a Chiefs franchise that was 2-14 and in chaos before he took over after the 2012 season.
“Oh, man, instantaneous,” said punter Dustin Colquitt, who along with linebacker Derrick Johnson is the longest-tenured Chief. He seemed to invoke some of that perspective when he added, “He’s not out to get you; he’s out to make you better. And he wants everybody in this, and everybody has skin in the game with him.”
In five years since a five-year stretch in which the Chiefs had gone 25-55, Reid has orchestrated a 53-27 regular-season record, the club’s first playoff win in 22 years and back-to-back division championships for the first time in team history.
He stands as the second-winningest active coach behind only New England’s Bill Belichick.
All of which makes the void on Reid’s resume more curious and glaring, especially for this specific audience:
Everyone ahead of him, and plenty behind him, on the league’s playoff-wins ledger has won at least one Super Bowl. And everyone before him on the overall wins list won multiple championships.
With the exception, that is, of the two men immediately in front of him: Dan Reeves and, gulp, the beloved Marty Schottenheimer — who had 101 of his 205 regular-season wins as coach of the Chiefs but was just 3-7 in those postseasons, and 5-13 overall in the playoffs.
In fact, as Reid sits on the cusp of more favorable standards, it’s also true that his next playoff loss will tie him with Schottenheimer for the third-most in NFL history (topped only by multiple Super Bowl winners Don Shula with 17 and Tom Landry with 16).
So getting clogged up in the playoffs is hauntingly familiar stuff for tortured Chiefs fans, who know they’ve got a great thing in Reid but also can’t discount that the organization has won a measly four playoff games since the 1970 Super Bowl.
It’s a tale of a sense of being cursed, of chasing an elusive dream with the ultimate prize awaiting — an albatross wrapped around a Great White Whale with the Holy Grail inside.
Because of the very things that have led Reid to this stage (and because you can’t say this is wrong until he retires!), it’s a quest I believe he’s destined to fulfill — though perhaps that’s more likely in a postseason that doesn’t feature the logical scenarios of having to play at New England and Pittsburgh to get there if the Chiefs get past the Titans.
Not that Reid speaks of this out loud much beyond generalities, because it’s not his style. He seldom betrays much personality as a head coach — even if you know it’s in there, considering his outgoing ways when he was an assistant coach at the University of Missouri under Bob Stull, or back when he was aspiring to be a journalist.
But assistants who perhaps know him best — special teams coordinator Dave Toub and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy — understand the emptiness Reid felt after his Eagles lost Super Bowl XXXIX, and how Reid burns for this.
“You can innately feel the drive within him,” said Nagy, who began working with Reid in Philly. “It’s why he’s doing this: to get this organization to the Super Bowl. And to win it.”
At least part of that passion has to stem from the double-edged implications of Reid’s postseason past — invaluable experience with heartbreak ladled over it.
While former Chiefs coach Marv Levy epitomized futility near the top when he led Buffalo to four straight AFC championships and subsequent Super Bowl losses, Reid’s path has been semi-similarly burdened with such anguish.
After three straight years of coaxing his Philadelphia teams to the NFC title game but being thwarted there, Reid finally broke through to the Super Bowl in 2005 …
Only to have his Eagles lose 24-21 to New England in a game that would forever append time-management oddities to the name of Reid.
“Every loss is bad, but I think the further you go in the playoffs, the worse the loss becomes,” Reid said after that game. “The players got a little taste of what it’s like being here. There is nothing like it. …
“When you get there, you want to get back. And when you get back, you want to win the game.”
Alas, Reid hasn’t been back and has reached a conference title game just once (2008) in the decade-plus since.
It remains to be seen whether the absence of a title in his otherwise splendid exploits is a quirk that one triumphant season will make an afterthought — or if it’s something that will remain unattained and partly frame his career.
What’s to come is a matter of debate and conjecture, considering some simply assume he’ll never make it happen and others wonder why it shouldn’t with everything he’s got in his profile.
That includes vast experience and teams that want to play for him and are talented enough to, say, start the 2017 season 5-0 with victories at AFC top seed New England and over NFC top seed Philadelphia and finish it with four straight wins.
Indeed, right here, right now is the idea.
But it’s worth noting that Reid, who turns 60 in March, is going to be at this a few more years.
And you can bet he’s going to have plenty more running jumps at it since he’s taken his teams to the playoffs in 13 of his 19 seasons as a head coach.
Moreover, between what Patrick Mahomes flashed in his NFL debut on Sunday in Denver and the trajectory and sheer consistency of the Chiefs organization under Reid, the future looks like it could offer ample opportunities if the present doesn’t deliver.
It’s right and good to expect Reid to deliver a Super Bowl. He’s richly rewarded for his work, and he’s put the Chiefs in position to be in the derby year in and year out.
That’s no small achievement in itself, and, in fact, should be the first thing you think of when you consider his impact here.
But for that not to seem in vain in the end, Kansas City — and Reid — need his legacy to include the sense of resolution for all that can only come with winning it all.
And sooner better than later — lest all his other mounting distinctions seem to ring hollow and add to the pain and suffering of nearly 50 years of unrequited devotion from fans.