What makes Andy Reid a great coach?

Andy Reid is at the top of this profession. He has bypassed Bill Belichick as the best coach in the NFL and his Kansas City Chiefs have an excellent chance of winning the AFC West yet again and defending their Super Bowl championship.

The Chiefs have not played their best football this season, and their offense has yet to soar this season. But there does not seem to be much doubt that the offense will find its level before the end of the season.

With the calendar still reading October, Reid, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs still have plenty of chances to find their offensive identity for the 2023 season.

Reid is a very unusual coach in terms of his age, leadership role and football IQ. At the age of 65, Reid chronologically belongs to the old school as he would seemingly belong to the group of coaches that push their teams hard in practice, don’t accept excuses and tend to be conservative when it comes to Game Day decisions.

Reid does not belong to that group. Instead, he is at the top of the ladder because he established great relationships with his players and he is both respected and well-liked. This is a formula that often leads to players taking advantage of a coach’s good nature, but it has not happened in Reid’s 25 years as an NFL head coach.

Through 14 years at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles and 11 years in a leadership position with the Chiefs, Reid has made football enjoyable for his players. He does this with relative ease, as he gives his players a chance to make plays on the field through their own creativity.

Making it fun for the Chiefs players

Fans have seen Travis Kelce run choice patterns on a regular basis. Once he gets 10-15 yards downfield, he cuts towards the middle or to the sidelines based on what he sees. The success of plays like this is dependent on Mahomes seeing the same thing that Kelce does. Invariably, both men see the same thing  95 percent of the time or more.

There’s no special signal between the two stars. Instead, it’s all about Mahomes getting just enough protection and both men understanding what the defense is doing. “Andy’s players know they have a certain freedom to create their own plays without the fear of angering their head coach. Instead, he encourages them to create on the run. It’s pretty extraordinary,” said one NFL assistant coach.

Practice sessions for the Chiefs are not drudgery. He tries to avoid that as much as possible, and one of his techniques has been to let his offensive linemen catch passes at the start of their Friday practice sessions. Could the Chiefs use a tackle-eligible in a game? Perhaps, but that’s not his reasoning. He wants his players to enjoy their jobs.

He has credibility with his players because he does what he says and says what he does. “You can't be in the job I'm in and not be real for as long as I've been doing it,” Reid said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN. “I think that ends up being important to the guys. I'm not going to be all over the place with them. I'm going to try to shoot them straight with what I see, right or wrong.”

He has regularly expressed the belief that players want to be coached. He will make corrections when he sees mistakes either on the field or on tape, but coaching for Andy Reid involves encouraging his players to use their creativity and freedom to make winning plays.

It clearly is a formula that works exceptionally well, and the Chiefs winning ays are evidence of that.

Sean McVay has gotten back on track with the Rams

He lost his focus a year ago when the Rams went through a 5-12 season. Sean McVay was distracted from his job a season after winning the Super Bowl and his team lost its way.

The intensity of a Super Bowl-winning season had apparently drained him, but it was not about McVay wanting to leave coaching and go on to a career in television – or anything else, for that matter.

But whatever distracted him during the 2022 season has inspired him this year. The last thing he wanted to do was leave the team with a 5-12 record and flailing about. Instead, he refocused in the offseason and the Rams are suddenly a better team.

McVay has been able to re-establish a culture with his imprint on it. He has figured out different ways that we can push his team.

He has given his players a similar freedom to create that Reid has employed in Kansas City. That’s a big part of the reason the Rams have returned to a competitive level. But it’s more that he has remembered how much he enjoys the profession of coaching. If there was ever a time that he was worn to a frazzle after taking his team to the Super Bowl, that time is over.

Where he wants to be

He wants to be coaching, and he wants to be coaching the Rams.

“I love coaching and I love working with players and other coaches,” McVay said during the offseason, via Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. “I think in some instances, when you lose your way, you lose perspective on things. And I reflected on things and I am grateful for that time. Ownership has been great and I’m really excited about being back”

It has shown this season, starting from the Week 1 road win over the Seattle Seahawks. Unlike last year, the Rams have been competitive in every game they have played this season and their 3-3 record is quite a bit better than most expected from them this season.

On the field, Cooper Kupp has returned from the devastating ankle injury he suffered last year and Puka Nacua has been one of the biggest discoveries of the 2023 season. Suddenly, the Rams have a devastating 1-2 punch at the WR position when it looked like they might be lost in the offseason.

Matthew Stafford is the beneficiary of having two dynamic receivers as the Rams approach their Week 7 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Will the Rams’ resurgence continue in the coming weeks? That will play out in games against Dallas, Green Bay and Seattle after facing Pittsburgh. But the Rams are playing 60 minutes every week and will not capitulate.

McVay is all in once again, and his team is following his lead.

This and that

Cleveland Browns, Browns Week 7, Browns predictions, Indianapolis Colts, Browns Colts

Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud finally threw his first interception, ending his NFL record at 191 pass attempts without a pick to start his career. There has been shockingly little nervousness or anxiety about Stroud’s game from the moment he left Ohio State and started practicing with the Texans in the offseason.

He has been particularly old school about his job. Stroud has been all about work ethic. He demonstrated leadership, accuracy and toughness from his first day with the team. The results have been sensational to this point, as Stroud has thrown for 277 yards per game with a 9-1 TD-interception ratio.

The Texans have a bye this week, and a favorable schedule going forward. Stroud is on his way to having one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in recent memory.

Jets step up

The New York Jets may be for real, and much of that is the result of improvement by Zach Wilson. They pulled off a major upset with a 20-14 win over the previously undefeated Eagles. It was the first win in franchise history over the Birds. The Jets are now 1-12 against Philadelphia after 12 consecutive defeats.

The Jets are 3-3 after their second win in a row and passing game coordinator Todd Downing and QB coach Rob Calabrese have worked closely with Wilson and helped him improve.

Head coach Robert Saleh has been criticized for being little more than a cheerleader on the sidelines, but he has let his offensive coaches do their job while working successfully with Wilson.

The Browns defense is special

Remember Jim Schwartz? Once a failure as a head coach with the Detroit Lions, he has once again established himself as a defensive innovator as the defensive coordinator with the Browns.

Cleveland is fifth in points allowed (15.4 per game) and first in total yards (200 per game) after Sunday’s 19-17 win over the 49ers. It marked the first time this season that the Niners were held under 30 points, and their 215 total yards were the fewest in seven years under coach Kyle Shanahan.

The Browns limited the Bengals and Titans each to 3 points, then dominated the 49ers. They are on track for a brilliant defensive season that could result in a postseason appearance.