Super Bowl 54: Coaching Matchup
Josh Portney analyzes the Super Bowl 54 head coaching matchup between Kansas City's Andy Reid and San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan.
The 49ers’ and Chiefs’ head coaches in Super Bowl 54 appear to be polar opposites from the eye test. One is a seasoned veteran who has been an NFL coach since 1992 and is on his second head coaching gig since 1999. The other got his first job in 2004 and his first head coaching job just three years ago. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had a father who died of an overdose over a decade ago, while Kyle Shanhan’s dad was a Super Bowl-winning head coach. Among all the differences, one thing they both will share on the world’s biggest stage is a second chance.
Andy Reid’s first job in the NFL was with the Green Bay Packers as an offensive assistant. There, he worked with head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre, who ironically shares a similar play style to Reid’s new quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Reid coached in Green Bay for seven years, even winning a Super Bowl as the quarterbacks coach in 1997 against Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots.
From there, Reid went to the Eagles, where he suffered playoff failure after playoff failure. Although Reid went to the playoffs in nine of his 13 years as their head coach, he only won 10 games in January. The Eagles only made the Super Bowl once under Reid’s tenure, that being in 2004 against the Patriots. This time, the Pats had a new Hall of Fame duo at head coach and quarterback, and the Eagles lost 24-21. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw three interceptions in the game, and that would be Reid’s last Super Bowl appearance before this season.
Even since coming to Kansas City in 2013, Reid only had one playoff win there before Patrick Mahomes replaced Alex Smith at quarterback. Now that Reid has his new Brett Favre under center, the question is this: Can this offense finally get Reid his first Super Bowl as a head coach?
On the other side is 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 40-year-old got his first job back in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the offensive quality control coach. He worked under head coach Jon Gruden for two years before becoming the offensive coordinator with the Texans, Redskins, Browns and Falcons. In 2008, he became the youngest coordinator in the NFL with Houston before joining his dad Mike in Washington the following year.
His most notable OC job came with the Falcons, as his work helped earn Matt Ryan the NFL MVP Award in 2016. But it didn’t come without some heartbreak, as Shanahan commanded the offense that conducted the most famous blown lead in sports history. The Falcons lost Super Bowl 51 by a score of 34-28 in overtime after holding a 28-3 lead over (guess who) the Patriots. Many criticized the play-calling of Shanahan, who accepted the 49ers head coaching job before that game.
In San Francisco, Shanahan only won 10 games in his first two years, as the team struggled to find a franchise signal caller. Everything changed this year when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was finally healthy for a full season, and it all just came together. Now, with a young star-studded defense and a second chance to call the right plays on offense, the question is this: Can Shanahan get the job done this time?
Clearly both head coaches will be looking to answer their questions with a “yes.”
Logan Bourandas is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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