[Editor’s note: Chiefs coach Andy Reid appeared as a guest of the January 9 edition of PFT Live. A full transcript of the interview appears below.]
Mike Florio: Now that you’re the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, the most immediate question is, will there be a play in the new playbook called the 65 toss power trap?
Andy Reid: (laughing) You’ve been talking to Gruden man. We’ve got some good stuff in there.
MF: Well, one thing that was obvious to me watching your press conference Monday coach is you seem to be genuinely rejuvenated by this new opportunity in Kansas City. Talk about how this change has changed you and how you feel after 14 years in Philly now getting started with the Kansas City Chiefs.
AR: Well listen, Mike, I enjoyed every minute in Philadelphia. The fans were passionate, the Luries were tremendous, and it was a good, solid — it was a great organization. I had an opportunity to work with Joe Banner who did a phenomenal job and Howie Roseman who did a phenomenal job, Tom Heckert, all these guys, you know, the people that you deal with there as a whole, players, coaches, it was a good bunch. This was an opportunity here to work for one of the great families in the National Football League. So I’ve sat through all the owner/coach meetings and all that down at the owners meetings, and I’ve looked around the rooms and I understand. I understand what the Kansas City Chiefs are all about, I’ve been in it long enough to figure it out. So when Clark Hunt came calling, I listened and it just seemed like the right thing to do. And as he presented his side and I was able to talk to him about my side and what kind of my makeup and how I go about my business and so on, it just seemed to click and work and thus I decided to come here.
MF: And, Coach, there was all sorts of reports and speculation last week linking you to other jobs, most notably the Arizona Cardinals. Was anyone else ever in this seriously or was it all Chiefs from the get-go?
AR: Well, listen. My wife’s from Phoenix and the Cardinals have a great organization so I, they were interested, I was interested, there was, you know, I’ve got a place out in California close to San Diego and there was some interest there and so, listen, when it was all, and they’ve got a great organization there. So there were decisions that had to be made. I would tell you, I just kind of came back to, like I said, there are three or four families in this league that are just, that you’d love to work for as you get old and grey like I’m getting, quickly. So, this is one of those, one of the franchises and I was lucky enough where they came calling and lucky enough where they offered me a job.
MF: What’s the one thing you’ll carry from your 14 years of experience as a head coach with the Eagles that you think will help you the most as you start your career with the Kansas City Chiefs?
AR: Well, you know, it’s hard to pinpoint one thing really. Until you’ve walked in a head coach’s shoes, you feel like you really know nothing. So I’ve had that opportunity to do it and you go, doggone, all those years of experience as a coach, this is so different. This is a different, different deal as a head football coach in this league. So, every day from that point on that you’re appointed the head coach, you learn and that’s, it keeps your mind fresh and every day is a new day and it’s a pretty exciting thing. So, there are only 32 of them in the whole world, man, so it’s pretty exciting. I would tell you the same thing. There’s a bunch of things I learned there, I’m going to try to do better here with. I take full responsibility for the last couple years. It wasn’t good enough, absolutely wasn’t good enough. Learned some great lessons, I’m going to bring those with me along with all the other 12 years I was there. I look at it as sort of 14 great years, I take that, I take all the experience of all 14 years, and try to do a better job. We didn’t get the Super Bowl ring doggone it, Mike, and you know that’s what we’re all shooting for and we didn’t get it. I’m going to try to do my best for this organization and allow them, all of us, to get a ring.
MF: The team that you’re with now, at least according to last year’s record, has the longest path to get to the top of the mountain. When you look at what the Chiefs have, what happened to the Chiefs in 2012, what’s you’re assessment of why they finished 2-14?
AR: Things didn’t work out. Whether it was injuries or whatever, it just didn’t work out for them. Specifically at specific positions, it didn’t work out. I would take you to the other side of that and I just say good coaches and good players, if you can combine those things you’re going to win a lot of games. If you can eliminate distractions, if there’s no pulling one way or the other, and this isn’t saying that that’s what happened there, I’m saying in general in this league. If everyone is pulling in the same direction, front office, coaching staff, players, if you’re pulling in the same direction, when those things get out of whack, normally good things don’t happen. So, you take those few facets, everyone pulling in the same direction, you take the combination of good players and good coaches, I think those are all important for teams to win. And normally if they’re not something in those areas there, there’s a problem.
MF: You had a great comment the other day about looking for the next Len Dawson, the only quarterback who has led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl win. The obvious question in response to that Coach is how do you go about finding the next Len Dawson in Kansas City?
AR: Well you better start by looking at the guys who are here. And you better start with how many coordinators, well look at skill level, and then how many coordinators have these guys had? How many changes? That’s a fragile position right there, man. If you’re talking about guys that you’re asking ‘Am I going to be a cardiologist or an orthopod?,’ one of those deals, and all of a sudden you’re going to change on them and make them overnight, in one year go from being the cardiologist to the orthopod, that’s a tough thing to do. So that’s how it is when you have to learn new offenses and new ways, it’s not easy. But you better analyze what’s there, and then you always keep your eyes open for that position, you’re always going to do that. So, if you have a great player, you’re going to make sure you have a great backup, and so we’re going to do that. We’ll look at it in draft, we’ll look at in in trade, we’ll look at it in free agency, we’ll keep our eyes open. But first we’re going to look at what we have and analyze that.
MF: You’ve got a track record of getting the absolute most out of whatever quarterback you put on the field, you’ve done that consistently. What is it that you do with a quarterback that gets him to be the best that he can be? What is it that’s coachable that isn’t already part of that quarterback’s makeup?
AR: As a coach, we’re here to teach, and to teach you better know your system. As a coach, I’ve been lucky enough to have the Marty Mornhinwegs of the world, the Brad Childressess of the world, I mean I’ve had some good quarterback coaches of late, Doug Pederson, these are good football coaches, Pat Shurmur, good football coaches that can teach, most of all teach. And so, and then the players have been good players. It’s just a matter of being able to pull it out of that player and try to find what makes him tick and evaluate him the right way. Make sure you find guys you can work into your system and then have the aptitude and ability, skill and ability, and can think on their feet maybe. You’ve got to do it quick, I mean real quick, and so you’ve got to be able to make accurate decisions in a very short amount of time.
MF: When do you anticipate making decisions about which coaches are going to be joining you as members of the staff in Kansas City?
AR: Doing it right now. Right now. We’ve been interviewing general managers and that process is still going on. And then I’ve made calls to coaches and I’m starting to bring them in here now. We’ve got the first ones on campus right now, so working through that process right now too.
MF: Any names you want to announce? No one’s really watching this, so, you know. . . .
AR: (laughing) That’s what I want to do right here. You are the best, man.
MF: You’ve got that first overall pick in the draft and it doesn’t seem like there are any quarterbacks out there that are worthy of being taken first overall, is that going to be the first thing you do when you evaluate the draft class? Is there a quarterback that would be worthy of that first selection?
AR: We’ll look at that position; we’re going to do that. We’ll look at all positions but we’re going look at that position. You’ve got to go through and analyze that, and that’s time right now. We’re early in the process so we’ve got to get in and do all that, do all the evaluations and that’s a long tedious deal, but let’s get it knocked out. A lot of the scouts and personnel guys have been doing that throughout the year and then what they do is, they bring the information in and then the coaches are part of the evaluation and then you build yourself up to a draft after having an opportunity to meet with these kids. We’ll see how it goes. Mike, the most important thing is that it’s the right pick. So, we get so caught up, and you can’t get caught up right now and say you have to have a quarterback. You do that and it’s not the right guy, that’s a problem, that’s a real problem, that sets you back. So whoever you take at that spot, it better be the right guy, that’s the most important, it doesn’t matter the position, really doesn’t matter, as long as he’s a good football player.
MF: One other area there’s been a lot of discussion on lately, and you played there this year, you go back there next year, FedEx Field. You’ve been there every year since it opened, a lot of criticism of the quality of the surface there. You were there in November, what’s your assessment of the condition, the quality, the overall playing surface at FedEx Field?
AR: The actual field itself?
MF: Yes, the actual turf itself.
AR: Well, Mike, it, it’s not bad (laughs). It’s not bad.
MF: Does that mean it’s not good?
AR: Well, I can’t tell you that it’s, it’s not bad. Listen, those grounds guys bust their tails to make sure it’s right, we played there this year. I’ve found in years past that it’s fine.
MF: But isn’t there a deeper issue that the NFL needs to be looking out now, Coach, that the NFL needs to be ensuring that these fields are always good, that they’re always the same. You’re talking about huge financial investments in the players, you want to keep them healthy, you don’t want them to get injured by anything other than the contact they experience on the football field and we know that’s inevitable, but you don’t what them to be injured by where they’re playing, where they’re running, how they’re setting their feet. Hasn’t the time come for the NFL to say we want the field to be as good as it can possible be in every NFL stadium?
AR: Listen, the field when we played there, it had rained, so there was a weather issues. In the years past the field’s been fine. I don’t know what happened the other day, I actually didn’t have a chance to see the game because I was doing this here. You’re going to have to make that decision on that. The one thing that I think people need to know, is that those grounds crew people spend so much time and effort there trying to make it right.
MF: Well, we know you’re going to be spending a lot of time and effort trying to make things right in Kansas City. It’s a new day for the Chiefs, a new day for you, and we wish you all the best. Congratulations on your success, best wishes going forward and we hope to talk to you soon.
AR: Listen Mike, it was my pleasure. Thank you.