Andy Reid is a great head coach. He sixth all time in wins with 211. He has multiple playoff appearances and wins and has been to a Super Bowl. Even fans of rival teams admit his brilliance in offensive play design and innovation. He is my third favorite Chiefs head coach ever. Stram has to be #1 and until we get another Lombardi Marty will be my #2. So this is not an Andy Reid hate post. I don’t think he should be fired and I firmly believe he gives the Chiefs their best chance to win another Super Bowl.
But he isn’t perfect.
Their has been a lot of discussion about the poor play of the offensive line in the Colts game. Cam Erving was awful, despite having been solid in his first three games filling in for Eric Fisher. Andrew Wylie went down and Ryan Hunter was a disaster at left guard. He is now on the practice squad and new acquisition Steve Wisniewski is expected to start. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that Erving is going to need help against J.J. Watt. But if the past is any indication, he isn’t going to get it. I say this both because of Andy’s response to previous problems on the offensive line and his history of trusting his scheme regardless of the available talent.
Remember Mike McGlynn? The worst starting guard in Chiefs history (by my estimation–not diving into an analysis here). He started the entire 2014 season under Andy Reid and was awful. He was bad to begin the season and got even worse as the season went on. Did Reid change his scheme to give McGlynn any help? Nope. McGlynn had a job to do and Andy expected him to do it. Just because he repeatedly demonstrated that he couldn’t didn’t change Andy’s expectations.
This line of thinking isn’t limited to the O-line, either. Bill Belichick has been quoted as saying that when the game is on the line, you don’t think about plays, you think about players. Andy disagrees, and it has cost the Chiefs in the past. Let’s go back to the 2017 season. The Chiefs hosted the Titans in the playoffs. Yeah, the Forward Progress game. The defense collapsed (again) in the second half. But I want to point out one particular play. Sorry, I don’t have a gif of this, but trust me, you don’t want to watch it anyway. The Chiefs were driving in the fourth quarter and had a third and short. Andy called a crossing route that was designed to go to Travis Kelce, which is about as high percentage a play as you can get in a crucial situation. The problem was that Kelce was out of the game with an injury and his place in the formation was taken by Orson Charles. Charles dropped the pass, the drive fizzled, and the Chiefs never really mounted another serious challenge to the Titans. Andy Reid trusted his play design and failed to account for the dropoff in talent from Kelce to Charles.
If this pattern sounds a bit familiar, it’s because this was the ultimate downfall of Bob Sutton. The big knock on Sutton was that he didn’t make in-game adjustments and that he didn’t adjust his scheme based on the abilities of the players he had. Sutton’s defense was generally adequate when he had a healthy Eric Berry to be on on the field quarterback and clean up everyone else’s mistakes. Take Berry out of the picture and, well, we all know what that looked like. Sutton trusted his scheme and expected players to fulfill their assigned roles, whether they had the talent to do so or not. Unfortunately, that is also Andy Reid’s biggest weakness.
Andy Reid is not Bob Sutton. He is much more flexible in adjusting his play calls based on what the defense is doing. I fully expect the Chiefs’ offensive game plan to be better against the Texans than it was against the Colts. It is now clear that even teams that are usually zone heavy (like the Colts) are going to play press-man against the Chiefs until their receivers show they can beat it. So I expect more plays designed to beat man coverage while getting the ball out quickly–slants, rubs, crossers, and screens. What I don’t expect is any adjustments in the offensive line responsibilities. Sorry folks, but Cam Erving is going to be on his own.