The Chiefs’ coach could now be considered the best offensive play-caller in football history after rallying his team past the Eagles and figuring out a way to get the most out of his injured QB.Andy Reid emerged from the most chaotic halftime of his life, with a quarterback chomping on his lip every time he.
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The Chiefs’ coach could now be considered the best offensive play-caller in football history after rallying his team past the Eagles and figuring out a way to get the most out of his injured QB.
Andy Reid emerged from the most chaotic halftime of his life, with a quarterback chomping on his lip every time he had to take a step, by placing Patrick Mahomes under center. It is among the most difficult positions for Mahomes to take a snap from when he can’t plant firmly on his dominant leg.
It’s not that Reid doesn’t care. He checks with Mahomes about his comfort constantly throughout the game and throughout the week. It’s that he likely knew the Eagles wouldn’t expect it. With Mahomes hobbled, the entire second half would have to be a sleight of hand from the league’s greatest offensive mind.
In a stunning 38–35 comeback win over the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, the story will obviously be how Mahomes played through the equivalent of a down-by-down kniving to his ankle, even scrambling for some of his bigger plays of the night. Mahomes was the unquestioned Most Valuable Player. But lost in that equation was the beautiful array into the schematic wild that helped get them there.
Reid, now the owner of his second Lombardi Trophy, is not just a tenured coach slowly climbing his way up the ladder to be considered second-best to Bill Belichick. In a game that featured Mahomes as his sole advantage, then saw Mahomes in so much pain that he reclined on the sideline bench and placed his head on his trainer’s shoulder, it was the depths of Reid’s playbook that allowed the Chiefs to keep pace, and ultimately win a game that had them left for dead.
This was Reid’s public grasp at the title of greatest play-caller in NFL history.
Need proof? Watch Mahomes stick his tongue out, point to the sky and skip as a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Kadarius Toney lofted in the air. The play was set up like a jet sweep to Toney, which had been teased at various points throughout the second half. The entire Eagles defense crashed to its right, anticipating the Chiefs’ attempt to wall them off on that side. That’s when Toney, who was limited at points this week during practice with ankle and hamstring injuries, did what few expected him to do: stop in the middle of the jet-sweep motion and creep back to the sideline, free to grab a wide-open pass.
Reid ran dueling jet sweeps that crossed at the quarterback like tradewinds. He ran two-back sets with Jerick McKinnon at fullback and Isiah Pacheco at tailback. Wide receiver Skyy Moore at tailback. Moore, on the drive after Toney’s touchdown, ran the exact same fake jet-sweep motion, and caught a wide-open score of his own (this, after the Chiefs tried and, unfortunately, failed to score on a play in which they ran a merry-go-round huddle, in which there was an eligible offensive tackle playing wide receiver) to put the Chiefs up 35–28 midway through the fourth quarter. He ran split back with Pacheco and fullback Michael Burton.
So often, the credit for Reid’s success is buried somewhere inside the alien arm of Mahomes, who, like only a few quarterbacks, seems to transcend scheme. There is a world in which he’s running the wing T offense to some degree of success and we’d all expect it.
But Reid had an offense that got Donovan McNabb to the Super Bowl. He had an offense that got Alex Smith to two divisional titles and a No. 1 conference seed. He had an offense for Mahomes that was so popular that the rest of the league started hiring coaches proficient in the Air Raid. They were more popular for a moment than offensive coaches who had spent time in the vicinity of Sean McVay.
He was the first coach of the pre-2000s era to unabashedly shed his idea of a “core” scheme and simply adopt whatever it was that made his quarterback happy and successful.
That might be the best way to describe Mahomes in the early snaps Sunday after he reemerged on the field with an ankle stretched and battered like an old rain gutter. Though he was in serious discomfort, he was in good hands with a coach who has conjured his offensive inspiration from everywhere. Texas high school football. Some Rose Bowl in the 1940s. Probably (likely) some playground out there somewhere that Reid could get a look. His brain is an art gallery with no discernable theme or concept, just one beautiful painting after the next.
The Eagles weren’t beaten so much as they were ever so slightly hoodwinked. The list of people who could pull that off is a short one, perhaps short enough to consider Reid alone as the best offensive mind in football history.
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This story was originally published February 12, 2023, 9:39 PM.