Chiefs vs. Eagles. Andy Reid vs. Doug Pederson. There’s a familiarity factor at play here, but who exactly does it favor?
Reid, head coach of the Chiefs, coached and mentored Pederson, now head coach in Philadelphia. The teams run similar offenses, as Pederson moved from the Chiefs’ staff to the Eagles after the 2015 season.
“For the most part it’s what we do here,” Reid said. “Same type of thing.”
Checks, signals, formations, all will be recognizable to both teams, not unlike a division encounter, when teams meet each other twice in a season.
Unless they play in the Super Bowl, the Chiefs and Eagles meet once every four years in the NFL scheduling formula and, for Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium, the emotions and connections will run deep.
Pederson said he might not be an NFL head coach today if he hadn’t worked with Reid in Philadelphia and in Kansas City.
“I did feel like coaching was in my future even when I was a player,” Pederson said. “But to be in this position today, I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Andy.”
They first crossed paths in Green Bay in 1995, when Pederson backed up quarterback Brett Farve and Reid was a member of the Packers’ coaching staff. In 1999, Reid’s first season in Philadelphia, his first quarterback was Pederson.
Reid also gave Pederson his first NFL coaching gig as the Eagles’ quality control coordinator in 2009.
As for Reid, he coached 14 years in Philadelphia and, although he was fired after two straight non-playoff seasons, he remembers his time there fondly.
“You don’t forget it,” Reid said. “It’s part of your history and part of your life. I don’t want to forget Philadelphia. But I’m all red now.”
Or Big Red, as Reid is known. Some of the playbook Pederson used in Kansas City and took to Philadelphia was crafted by Reid there.
Eagles center Jason Kelce, older brother of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, sees the connection, having played for Reid and Pederson in Philadelphia.
“The way we schedule things, to a lot of the things we do from an organization standpoint to a scheduling standpoint, they’re very similar in that respect,” Jason Kelce said. “Personality-wise, they both bring their own little nuance to it, but you can tell that Doug had a major influence from Andy Reid.”
Asked what he took from Reid, who is 8-3 against former assistants he’s coached at both stops, Pederson offered two specifics.
“Just paying attention to the small things, the little things, No. 1,” Pederson said. “Probably No. 2 is that you’ve got to love to teach the game, the fundamentals, the details of the plays. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t assume all the players know everything. You can’t assume the coaches know everything.
“Those are the things I learned from him.”
As it applies to Sunday, familiarity works both ways, said Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. The Chiefs know Pederson, and he knows them.
“He was on the same practice fields as I was,” Sutton said. “He knows our defenses as good as I know their offense. I’d say that’s a wash.”
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson also isn’t buying into the advantage story line.
“There are some similarities, but you just can’t pull the Chiefs playbook and say, ‘Here’s Pederson’ — you just can’t do that,” Johnson said. “It’s not as simple as that.
“Even though they’re under the same umbrella, they have their own identity.”