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Reid at the helm of KC's turnaround

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Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013 10:28 am

That has to be a misprint doesn’t it?

The Kansas City Chiefs at 8-0?

The ones who were an NFL-worst 2-14 only last season?

Yeah, them, the team that will meet the Bills on Sunday afternoon at “The Ralph” and whose impressive, but unexpected, record ensured Buffalo would sell out a fifth straight home game.

But the incredulity is understandable.

KC’s coach is 55-year-old Andy Reid, late of the Eagles.

In 14 seasons, he took Philadelphia to nine playoff berths, five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl, which the Eagles lost.

But after back-to-back 8-8 and 4-12 seasons, he was fired.

Reid, though, was out of work exactly five days ... immediately being hired by the Chiefs to replace the beleaguered Romeo Crennel.

And if that assessment seems harsh, consider that Crennel coached a team that had six Pro Bowlers on a squad which won only two of 16 games. It was the first time in NFL history a team that had fewer than six victories was so well-represented in the NFL’s all-star game.

OF TAKING the job so quickly, Reid admitted, “ I’ve been a big fan of the Hunt family (including Lamar, the late owner). I’ve been doing this for a few years now and they’re one of the old-time NFL families that handle themselves with a tremendous amount of class.

“I came from a good organization and I’m lucky enough to be in another good organization. That’s really it. I didn’t look at records or anything else. When Clark (Hunt, Chiefs’ CEO) called, that was enough. His name and reputation meant everything.”

So did the roster he inherited.

Fifteen starters returned, including those six Pro Bowl players: running back Jamaal Charles, linebackers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston, plus safety Eric Berry and punter Dustin Colquitt.

And, oh yeah, in late February, the Chiefs sent what turned out to be two second-round draft picks to San Francisco for quarterback Alex Smith, who had lost his job with the 49ers to Colin Kaepernick.

Halfway through the season, Smith hasn’t been spectacular, but has been steady. He has a modest nine touchdown passes, only four interceptions and a pedestrian  82.1 passer rating. In short, the perfect game manager.

“I WAS A fan when he was at Utah, and that’s hard for a BYU guy to say,”  Reid noted of his alma mater. “I thought (Smith)  was a heckuva quarterback and (that) he’d be good in our system. I also knew his college coach and, for whatever reason, our schedule was one in Philadelphia that we played the 49ers quite a little bit in the first part of his maturation process there.

“I got to see him grow first-hand through the trials and tribulations of the National Football League. He continued to grow and persevere, won games, and played well. He made everybody around him better and that’s what he’s doing here.  I enjoy coaching him, he runs our football team great and that’s all I care about. He’s a heckuva kid.”

AND THE marriage has worked.

Kansas City is the only team in NFL history to go 8-0 the first year with a new head coach and a new quarterback.

Reid, of course, credits his roster.

“(Chiefs’ general manager) John Dorsey has done a nice job with the new additions that are here and the guys that have been here,” he maintained. “It's just been tremendous. Scott Pioli (Dorsey’s predecessor) did a nice job before we got here and deserves some credit. And John’s done a nice job building on some of the foundation that Scott left.”

BUT THE former Packers’ assistant isn’t sure what has caused the Chiefs metamorphosis ... and hasn’t thought about it.

“You don't really pay too much attention to that,” Reid said.  “You try to get ready for the next opponent, and that’s what we’re doing. When you’re coaching or playing, you’re not worried about all that other stuff (like winning the first eight games). You’re too busy doing what you’re doing and trying to get ready for the team that you’re playing (next).”

And the Chiefs have done it every start this season, the first NFL team ever to go 8-0 after having only two wins the previous year and the first to achieve that start after having the league’s worst record a season earlier.

Even Reid admitted, “As long as you come out ahead in the points category ...  we’re all in it to win games. That’s not a secret.”

(Chuck Pollock, the Times Herald sports editor, can be reached at cpollock@oleantimesherald.com)

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