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Why Kansas City's Andy Reid is the NFL's best head coach

It’s difficult to argue against the claim that Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the NFL. He’s very likely headed for the Hall of Fame and has now guided two different franchises to the Super Bowl, 15 seasons apart. He was the first head coach in Kansas City‘s history to win back-to-back AFC West titles and has now extended that streak to four. He’s won more playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium in the last two years than the franchise previously managed in its history, and he's accumulated a 68.8% winning percentage during the regular season as the Chiefs' head coach despite the fact that five of his seven years in charge were guided on offense by the perpetually average Alex Smith.

On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs' defense was 27th and 24th in yards per play allowed in 2017 and 2018, respectively, but they improved to 16th in 2019 after making the difficult decision to jettison Bob Sutton and replace him with Steve Spagnuolo.

In this article, though, I want to use the information we have available at PFF to make the argument that Andy Reid is the best offensive mind in the NFL.

More Than the Sum of Its Parts

Our first argument uses PFF's play-by-play coaching metric powered by AWS machine learning capabilities, which uses our opponent-adjusted grades to take the difference between what was expected to happen on a play (using expected points added) and what actually occurred. We use a clustering algorithm to weigh plays by their frequency and importance and use this metric to rank offensive and defensive play-callers each week.

Andy Reid has finished in the top 10 of this coaching metric each season from 2014 to 2019, and he notably finished first in both 2018 and 2019. Simply put, Andy Reid gets more out of his offense play-for-play than any offensive play-caller in the NFL, even after adjusting for the talent they have had on offense, and he has done so for some time.

In no other set of games did this show out more than against the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings in Weeks 8 and 9 of the 2019 season. After losing Patrick Mahomes to a knee injury, Reid and backup quarterback Matt Moore (who was signed on the eve of the regular season), guided the Chiefs offense to a +0.06 EPA per offensive play (13th in the NFL during that time), keeping both games within one score and winning the latter game against the Vikings for a result that would end up being the difference between them playing the Titans during the wild-card round of the playoffs and the AFC title game. Reid gave Moore play-action on a whopping 38% of his dropbacks during that time, and he averaged over 10 yards per pass attempt on said plays.

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