Last season in the NFL was a rather unpleasant one for both Andy Reid and Alex Smith.
Reid was the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles for 14 years, a team with high expectations every year. Only last year, the Eagles managed to win just four games, which resulted in Reid being fired. The Kansas City Chiefs offered Reid a job, and he accepted.
Smith was the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and was having a solid season last year, throwing for 1,737 yards and 13 touchdowns. before sustaining a concussion in the middle of the season and being replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Although Smith was medically cleared to resume playing soon after, Kaepernick had performed so well that the 49ers continued to use him as the starter.
Reid had always admired the way Smith played and had tried numerous times to bring him to Philadelphia. Now that Reid was head coach of the Chiefs, he again went after Smith. The 49ers accepted the trade offer and Smith was sent to the Chiefs.
The pairing of Smith and Reid is a peculiar one, especially for football fans in Utah. While Smith attended the University of Utah in college, Reid attended rival school Brigham Young University. The rivalry between the two schools has grown over the years and to this day runs exceedingly deep.
BYU fans grudgingly remember Smith in college as he led the Utes to a perfect 12-0 season, including a 52-21 blowout win over the Cougars and a 35-7 win against Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Smith finished fourth in voting for the Heisman trophy and went on to be drafted first overall in the NFL Draft.
Reid to this day remains an enormous BYU fan. He speaks with former BYU coach LaVell Edwards at least once a week. Reid has been known to sign BYU players to free agent contracts in the NFL just to give them a shot at the professional level. He still follows BYU closely.
"I watch them very close. I'm a huge fan of the Cougs," Reid told KSL's Jason Shepherd. "I loved my time there as a player and I've loved being a fan ever since."
For BYU and Utah fans, the pairing of Reid and Smith seems a bit odd. While its likely the two have exchanged a few rivalry jokes, both Reid and Smith have much more to worry about that a college rivalry.
The Chiefs won only two games last season, finishing with the worst record in the NFL. They turned to Reid to right the ship. With Reid as the head coach and Smith as the starting quarterback, the Chiefs seem to be taking steps in the right direction.
"You want to win every game you possibly can in the National Football League, that's what you strive for," Reid told ESPN. "You work so stinking hard for every week, then you cherish it."
Winning is something every coach emphasizes, but going out and doing it is something entirely different. So far for Reid and Smith, their pairing has proven to be the right recipe for winning.
The Chiefs have won their first three games. Neither Reid nor Smith could ask for a better start.
Last year, the Chiefs' quarterbacks passed for a combined eight touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Smith has thrown 105 passes without an interception thus far this season. He has thrown for 669 yards and four touchdowns.
Kansas City leads the NFL in forced turnovers with nine, and has been extremely efficient in every aspect of the game. Whether it is passing, rushing, receiving, defending, or playing special teams, the Chiefs aren't making mistakes. There doesn't seem to be any weaknesses in the way the Chiefs are playing, as they are juggernauts on both sides of the ball.
From a Kansas City team that was the worst in the entire NFL last year, to a team that is now undefeated, and picking up momentum, it seems that Reid and Smith are the perfect match. And, as Smith continues to get used to Reid's west-coast system and Reid gets a better feel for Smith's ability, the Chiefs should get better and better.
As an undefeated team, it will only get harder for the Chiefs. But, whether they end the season as an average team, a Wild Card team, or a Super Bowl contender, Reid and Smith are proving one thing:
Cougars and Utes CAN get along.
You can follow Mitch Kunzler on Twitter at @MitchKunzler.
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