KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Andy Reid wasn’t far into last week’s interview with Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt when he had a notion of how the whole thing might turn out.
“What I thought might be a three-hour meeting turned out to be a nine-hour meeting,” Reid said Monday. “It probably could have gone on a lot longer than that. There was a certain energy.… As we talked, we just got the feeling this was right. That made the decision easy.”
Everything came together that quickly for Reid, who agreed to join the Chiefs as their new coach on a five-year contract mere days after his 14-year run as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles came to an end. He said at his introductory news conference on Monday at Arrowhead Stadium that a combination of factors, including the tradition, fans, facilities and his belief that everyone in the organization is finally ready to pull in the same direction, drew him toward the Chiefs.
Reid said he wasn’t intimidated by the fact that at 2-14, the Chiefs had the NFL’s worst record this season.
“I don’t focus on that last year,” he said. “When I looked at the Chiefs, I looked at a bigger picture than that. What are they about? What are they made of? Every organization goes through a lull because of personnel changes, growing old, maybe a draft pick here or there didn’t work, or a free agent didn’t work here or there. That happens (to all teams).
“I’ve been in this thing long enough to appreciate that.”
Hunt had an extensive list of candidates he planned to interview. He got around to two Atlanta assistants, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams coach Keith Armstrong.
Then came his meeting with the 54-year-old Reid, one of the most accomplished coaches on the job market. Under Reid, the Eagles won six NFC East championships and made the playoffs three other times as a wild card.
They advanced to the NFC championship game five times and the Super Bowl once. He was the longest-tenured coach in the league at the time of his firing last week.
“A week ago today, I began the search for our next head coach,” Hunt said. “I outlined a specific set of criteria that I believed best described the ideal candidate for our job. I wanted a proven leader who had built a successful program. I knew I was looking for an effective communicator and teacher and someone with a high football IQ and a strong work ethic. Finally and most importantly, I knew I wanted a man of integrity who would hold himself and those around him accountable to get the job done.
“What I didn’t know when I laid out those criteria last week is that I was effectively describing Andy Reid.”
The Chiefs cancelled the rest of their planned interviews and Reid never took his scheduled trip to Arizona to meet with the Cardinals about their vacant coaching position.
“It was apparent to both of us from pretty early on in the interview that there was a good fit,” Hunt said. “It was just the chemistry I felt like I had with him. I started all the interviews by spending time one on one with the candidates. I felt that was important. Frankly I could have spent the entire nine hours talking to him.”
The Chiefs are looking to replace general manager Scott Pioli. The Chiefs changed how they’re structured with both Reid and the general manager reporting directly to Hunt.
But Hunt said the general manager would have final say in player decisions, including the draft.
“I’m leaving that up to Clark,” Reid said of the general manager search. “I’ll sit in on the interview with him but the final decision is his.”
Many veteran coaches take a year or more away from football before accepting a new job. Dick Vermeil was out of coaching for a year when he joined the Chiefs and Marty Schottenheimer sat out two seasons after leaving Kansas City.
Reid was out of work exactly four days before signing with the Chiefs.
“I’m ready to go,” Reid said. “This is what I do. I never took that idea seriously.
“I understand the energy I have that I can bring to this organization.”
But the notion of possible coaching burnout was an issue for Hunt. Reid’s 14 seasons with the Eagles didn’t end well. They missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, the only back-to-back years they didn’t reach the postseason under Reid.
They were 4-12 this season. Last summer, Reid’s son Garrett died of a drug overdose.
“We went into the interview with that as one of the big questions,” Hunt said. “He came into the interview with much more energy than I anticipated. He’s a pretty quiet coach on the sideline. You don’t see a lot of outbursts. But if you get him one on one, he has a lot of energy and is very engaging.
“He’s a football coach. That’s what he does. He’s ready to go. I’ll tell you what: The pace we’ve been working at the past couple of days as we shift gears now into trying to build the staff and getting the GM search started, he has a whole lot more energy than I do.”