He went 8-8 in his first season, plunging to a 2-8 finish after starting with six consecutive victories. They were alive in the playoff hunt on the final day of that season, but lost at home by 20 points to the Chiefs. KC finished that year — no kidding — 4-12.
It got no better in the second season, when he was allowed to coach a dozen games but won just three of them. Management had seen enough. After firing him, the Broncos made the playoffs the next five years in a row, including two Super Bowls and one championship.
Forget the offseason. This would be the top storyline of the 2018-19 postseason if the stars align for that matchup. Imagine if Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s return coincides with a playoff matchup against the Patriots – 17 years after the Tuck Rule” game on Jan. 19, 2002, that is considered the launch point for Belichick, Brady and eight Super Bowl appearances.
Would a Raiders’ victory knock down the rest of the Patriots’ dominoes the AFC has been hoping would fall while simultaneously renewing one of the NFL’s most-fabled franchises?
Going back to the first hire of the offseason, the Bears wasted no time in landing Matt Nagy, who succeeded Pederson as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. The Colts’ pursuit of McDaniels was predicated on the fact that they wanted an offensive-minded coach to reboot the career of a hopefully healthy Andrew Luck. Reich, as Pederson’s latest right-hand man, is the right man for the task.
The biggest difference between McDaniels and Reich is experience. McDaniels turns 42 in April, but he’s had a previous head-coaching stint in Denver plus multiple long stretches on New England’s staff. Reich turned 56 in December, but he entered coaching late, only 10 years ago.
After being one of the best-ever backup QBs for the Bills behind Jim Kelly, Reich has built his second NFL career in his own right. In 2008, his first shot came with the Colts’ offensive staff under the legendary Tom Moore. That crosses over into another familiar coaching name with the Colts — Bruce Arians.
Arians, as interim coach during Luck’s rookie season in 2012, was NFL coach of the year filling in for Chuck Pagano. Arians got his head-coaching shot later than most, and unexpectedly. After few winning seasons with Indianapolis and Arizona, his short time in that capacity will go down as a success. Reich’s age shouldn’t be a factor, because as Arians did, he connects well to young players.