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Dick Harmon: Once Philly's goat, Kansas City's Andy Reid is a genius again

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 11:16 a.m. MDT

Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference, at which he named Michael Vick as the NFL football team's starting quarterback, Tuesday. (H. Rumph, Jr., Associated Press) Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference, at which he named Michael Vick as the NFL football team's starting quarterback, Tuesday. (H. Rumph, Jr., Associated Press)

Changing coaching chairs in the NFL is a crazy game. You don't need to look any further than Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid to understand just how nuts it is.

Reid has joined former Ute quarterback Alex Smith in leading the Chiefs to the best record in the NFL — an undefeated 8-0 mark.

Its been a meteoric rise from the ashes by the Chiefs, who are enjoying their best start in franchise history since opening 9-0 in 2003.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround. NFL teams just don’t go undefeated this long very often. Especially not when that same team went 2-14 the year before.

Reid is the front-runner for coach of the year just one year after Philadelphia had no use for the guy.

In 2013 Reid’s celebrity has skyrocketed in K.C. He’s cracking up the media in press conferences. He’s warmed up the fan base with his walrus look, his expertise, his skill and acumen, his self-depreciating quotes, and by putting things together. Parents even dressed up a toddler with a Reid look, bushy moustache and all, for a Halloween party, and it took off on the Internet.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, right, talks with quarterback Alex Smith (11) during NFL football training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013.  (Orlin Wagner, Associated Press) Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, right, talks with quarterback Alex Smith (11) during NFL football training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (Orlin Wagner, Associated Press)

A year ago, Reid was pretty much chased out of Philadelphia, a place he’d roosted for 14 seasons. He had more tenure in that town than Mike Ditka did in Chicago or Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. But taking risks on free agents, struggling, and the sharks in Philly were restless and sniffing for blood.

Reid, the former BYU offensive lineman, left Philadelphia last year for a dumpster fire in Kansas City. One writer said the Chiefs' 1-5 start in 2012 was “the growing stink of unsalvageable garbage.”

In short order, Reid has turned it around.

A year ago, Smith was starting for a first-place San Francisco team, only to lose his starting job, get traded, and move halfway across the country. In essence, he escaped a mixed-up 49ers franchise that had messed around with things since he was drafted out of Utah in 2005.

Smith, too, found new life in what everyone knows was the Chiefs' steaming heap. In spite of the 49er issues, Smith’s 28-5-1 record over the last three seasons is second only to Peyton Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference, at which he named Michael Vick as the NFL football team's starting quarterback, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, in Philadelphia.  (H. Rumph, Jr., Associated Press) Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid speaks during a news conference, at which he named Michael Vick as the NFL football team's starting quarterback, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010, in Philadelphia. (H. Rumph, Jr., Associated Press)

What Reid and Smith have now is a completely different world. The Chiefs' locker room is a place players love to hang around. A year ago players couldn’t wait to find their cars after games.

“No lie,” defensive lineman Tyson Jackson told the Kansas City Star. “It's a complete block, bro. I can’t even think back that far (to last year). Oh, man. Such a long time ago.”

Reid and Smith are heroes. A year ago, they were unappreciated and unwanted.

In Philly, Reid got tangled up in personnel management and tried to “cook” too much on the burners. Now, Reid is suddenly a genius again and ready for a parade.

In San Francisco, the 49ers liked the shiny new Colin Kaepernick over Smith last year. It was like ditching an old reliable model for the latest flashy set of wheels. But suddenly, Smith is valuable, accurate and a driving force and leader of the Chiefs' offense.

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, right, talks with quarterback Alex Smith (11) during NFL football training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (Orlin Wagner, AP) Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid, right, talks with quarterback Alex Smith (11) during NFL football training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) (Orlin Wagner, AP)

What changed?

Only their zip codes.

This would be a good time to resurrect one of Reid’s famous quotes as the Eagles' coach, one given when things were not going so well.

“In everything it’s my responsibility," he said. It’s my football team. It’s a reflection of me.”

A quote like that works both ways.

Evidently, it does this week in Kansas City.

Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at dharmon@desnews.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company