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You may have heard the old saying that the best coaches put their players in position to succeed.

If you needed exhilarating examples to prove the adage, several played out in plain view on the Super Bowl field last weekend, springing from the creative genius of Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid.

Several plays just flat-out awed a professional admirer and fellow Latter-day Saint, former Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo.

He was slack-jawed watching Reid operate, moving his players around to generate easier and easier opportunities for them to excel.

In fact, two of the Chiefs touchdowns came on plays where Reid creations got his wide receivers open by a staggering 15 or 20 yards.

Another play that left Niumatalolo thunderstruck was the Chiefs first touchdown, when Reid sent his offense out in a formation with superstar tight end Travis Kelce lined up on the far right. Then, just before the play began, he had Kelce move just a few feet inside the wide receiver to his left.

That subtle move changed which Philadelphia Eagle would try to cover Kelce on the play, giving him an easier matchup. When the play started, the two Chiefs criss-crossed again and Kelce was open for a touchdown catch that tied the game.

The awe in Niumatalolo’s voice underscored the way Reid’s play design left him feeling.

“I was like, ‘He’s so good,’” Niumatalolo said reverently. “That was ingenious, how he moved him there.”

Reid’s excellence at reading the Eagles defense and making adjustments to beat it was on full display for 113 million viewers to see.

“He came up with new stuff on the highest level in the Super Bowl, which is awesome, but the thing that’s amazing to me is he does it every week,” Niumatalolo said. “It’s such a copycat league, everybody’s gonna study him in offseason.”

The joke may be on them.

“He’ll have some new wrinkles for them next year,” Niumatalolo said with a laugh.

He had plenty more to say about Reid, the coach.

“He’s obviously the best playcaller in football. ... He’s just amazing. His knowledge of football is just next level,” said Niumatalolo, who has won 109 college games as a head coach.

Reid’s offenses have finished in the NFL’s top 10 in points scored in 20 of his 24 seasons as head coach.

“Coach Reid is an offensive guru,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s one of the best coaches — forget offensive guru — he’s obviously one of the best football coaches that’s ever coached. But he’s an offensive genius.”

Now that Reid has won two Super Bowls in four trips to the big game, most experts expect Reid to be a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Reid’s Chiefs also just did something nobody has done before: They now have qualified to host five straight conference championship games.

And just consider the list of winningest coaches in NFL history:

1. Don Shula: 347 (328 regular season, 19 playoff)

2. Bill Belichick: 329 (298 regular season, 31 playoff)

3. George Halas: 324 (318 regular season, 6 playoff)

4. Tom Landry: 270 (250 regular season, 20 playoff)

5. Andy Reid: 269 (247 regular season, 22 playoff)

6. Curly Lambeau: 229 (226 regular season, 3 playoff)

That’s an amazing list, and a fun one considering that he played for and revered the late BYU head coach LaVell Edwards.

In fact, Reid passed Edwards in coaching wins this year. Edwards sits similarly situated on the college football wins list:

1. Joe Paterno: 409

2. Bobby Bowden: 346

3. Paul “Bear” Bryant: 323

4. Glenn “Pop” Warner: 311

5. Amos Alonzo Stagg: 275

6. LaVell Edwards: 257

Reid turns 65 next month and said he will return to coach again next season.

“He’s not one of the younger guys in a league where a lot of coaches now are in their early 30s,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s one of the older guys, but his creativity and his energy, you can tell, have not diminished one iota. In fact, it’s amazing to see his creativity, how he continues to evolve and add things.”

Here’s one more little chart to show just how great Reid has been. It shows franchises with the most regular-season wins in a 10-year span, per the Ringer.

New England, 2003-12, 126-34

San Francisco, 1989-98, 123-37

Kansas City, 2013-22, 117-45

Niumatalolo also had plenty more to say about Reid, the man, whom he has met twice. Once when they spoke together at a Latter-day Saint fireside and another time when he took Navy to play Army in Philadelphia while Reid was the Eagles head coach.

“You’re kind of in awe being, as a coach, with a guy in the league who is well-respected and well-known, but also just a good person, a great member of the church, just a good man,” he said. “He was such a good person and very humble, very kind-hearted, very gracious, he just seemed so down to earth.

“Even if he wasn’t LDS, I would follow him because he’s obviously one of the best coaches of all time, so I just love following him and watching his games, just looking at the creativity in what they do.”

In fact, Niumatalolo watches every NFL special or show and listens to any podcast where Reid appears. He has learned that, “He’s a phenomenal teacher, just phenomenal.”

Also, he said, “Anybody that ever talks about coach Reid, they just all love him. It’s kind of cool to see a man of that stature, coaching on the highest level, succeeding at the highest level where it’s all about business, and you hear people talking about Andy Reid the man and how much they respected him as a person. Obviously, it was reciprocal, because he was showing them great love and respect and the players were reciprocating.”

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid leads Patrick Mahomes, right, and Carlos Dunlap, far left, along with the rest of the team in a cheer during a victory celebration in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. The Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s Super Bowl game. | Reed Hoffmann, Associated Press

Niumatalolo particularly enjoyed one show that portrayed Reid’s use of clean language.

“Everybody knows he is a man of faith,” Niumatalolo said. “On one special, they were joking about his use of ‘Gosh, darn it’ or other phrases like that. They were kind of chuckling about it that he never swore.”

Niumatalolo said his own future is coming into focus.

His 15-year stint at Navy ended abruptly after losing a bowl game in December, so he and his wife, Barbara, went to Hawaii to see his father and their daughter, then to Guam to see Barbara’s family.

He got offers to be an assistant coach from two Big 10 schools but passed. He’s talking with TV networks about analyst jobs, too, but it wasn’t until he was released as a stake president earlier this month that things became clearer.

“It wasn’t till after being released recently that I got offered the job I feel the best about, and I kind of feel like that’s where the Lord’s guiding our family,” Niumatalolo said. “We should find out soon if it will work out, but I feel good about what’s happening.

“I was just letting the Lord guide wherever that would be. I wasn’t really pressing, I was just trusting in the Lord. Some stuff came up early, and I was grateful for the opportunities, and I think most coaches might have jumped at it to stay in the profession, but I wasn’t fully at peace with any of it.”

The potential job is in the western United States, he said.

“That’s where I was looking to go because I want to get closer to my dad and my daughter and her family that live in Hawaii,” he said.

(See more great links about Reid and Niumatalolo at bottom.)

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More about Andy Reid and Ken Niumatalolo

The most fun recent story about Reid is this one. Here’s an excerpt: “Reid has a reputation as an offensive genius, while (Bill) Belichick is the defensive mastermind; Reid’s disposition leans toward sunshine and rainbows and double cheeseburgers, while Belichick is attracted by the dark side of the force, all hoodies and one-word answers and spy games.”

I absolutely devoured two breakdowns of Reid’s playcalling in the Super Bowl. They are easy to digest and fascinating:

  • The first is from ESPN’s excellent Bill Barnwell.
  • The second is behind a paywall, but includes great photos to illustrate what Reid did, in this story from The Athletic’s own football writer, Ted Nguyen.

This commercial with Andy Reid is obviously low-budget and local, but the ending made me laugh out loud. Yes, probably because I owned one of those as a kid.

Coach Niumatalolo will speak at a BYU coaching clinic in March.

What Reid said to media at the Super Bowl about coffee.

What Reid said about playing for BYU and how it helped him become a better coach.