It’s a well-known story. Andy Reid, an English major at BYU at the time, thought he might become a doctor or maybe a writer. He didn’t really consider a career in coaching until LaVell Edwards, his coach at BYU from 1978-81, suggested it one day. “Have you thought about being a coach?” he asked Reid. “You’d be a good one.”
And so he has. On Sunday, Reid became the first coach in NFL history to win 100 games with two different teams, counting seven playoff wins. He produced a win-loss record of 140-102-1 during 14 seasons with the Eagles; he is 100-45-0 in 8 ¼ seasons with the Chiefs. He also has taken three teams to the Super Bowl, winning one.
It’s not merely a result of longevity. There are coaches who have coached longer and there are many coaches who have coached more than one team — of the top 16 winningest coaches in NFL history, only George Halas, Tom Landry and Chuck Noll coached just one team. But no one has come even close to winning 100 games with two different teams.
Counting playoffs, Don Shula won 73 games in seven years with the Colts and then 274 in 26 seasons with the Dolphins. The great Paul Brown won 167 games in 17 seasons with the Browns and 55 games in eight seasons with the Bengals. Tony Dungy won 56 games as the Buccaneers head coach for six seasons, then won 92 games and a Super Bowl during seven seasons as the Colts coach.
Mike Holmgren, after taking over two troubled teams, won 84 games and made two Super Bowl appearances during seven seasons with the Packers before moving to Seattle, where he won 90 games in 10 seasons. Bill Belichick won 37 games in five years with the Browns before moving to the Patriots, whom he has led to 275 wins. Marty Schottenheimer won 104 games in 10 seasons with the Chiefs and won 101 games combined with three other clubs over an 11-year period.
Dan Reeves won 117 games with the Broncos and took them to three Super Bowls in 12 seasons, but he won only 84 games combined with the Falcons and Giants. Chuck Knox won 38 games with the Bills, 83 games with the Seahawks and 72 games with the Rams during a 22-year run.
George Allen did a masterful job of transforming two bad clubs — Los Angeles and Washington — into immediate winners, but he stuck around only long enough to win 49 games with the former and 69 games with the latter. He has easily the highest winning percentage (.712) among the 70 winningest coaches in the NFL.
Winning 100 games in two different places is like pulling off a magic act, twice. It requires longevity and that requires success and that requires skill and a little luck. The average tenure of an NFL coach is 3.2 years. Starting over with a new team is inherently hazardous duty for a coach — any team that’s hiring a new coach is often a losing team.
The Eagles were coming off a three-win season when Reid took over as head coach; in Reid’s second season the Eagles began the first of five straight trips to the playoffs, including four conference championship appearances. The Chiefs had won only two games the year before Reid arrived, and he took that team to the playoffs immediately. Reid has had only two losing seasons — his first and last years with the Eagles.
Reid is the sixth-winningest coach in NFL history, with 222, trailing Shula, Halas, Belichick, Landry and Curly Lambeau. He sports a winning percentage of .629 — fifth highest among the 20 winningest coaches.
So what did the late Edwards see in Reid, one of his offensive linemen at BYU, that suggested a future as a coach? Chiefs.com quoted Edwards in a 2016 story:
“We’d be out there practicing and working, and there’d be questions coming up on how to pick up a certain blitz. I noticed a lot of times (Reid) was helping the guard, the tackle or the center next to him, to make sure they understood what to do if there was some kind of stunt or whatever they did. I remember saying at the time that this guy’s got an unusual feel and knowledge of the game.”
Edwards continued: “He not only learned and knew what his assignment was, but also the reasons why and the concept of what you’re trying to do. A lot of players didn’t have that concept or ability, but Andy did. He had a feel for it. That’s one of the things I admire most about him, and it made me think the more I was around him, the more I watched him, I realized this guy could be a very good coach.”