KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs were in shambles after the worst season in franchise history, and chairman Clark Hunt promised their devoted followers that better ways were ahead.
That was on Monday. By Friday, he had delivered Andy Reid.
While only the future will tell whether the longtime Eagles coach will be able to replicate the success he had during 14 seasons in Philadelphia, the reaction to his hiring in Kansas City was overwhelming positive — to the point where every move he made was being documented.
Reid arrived at a downtown airport aboard a chartered flight Friday afternoon, shortly before he signed a five-year deal with the Chiefs. Reid climbed into a black SUV and drove to Arrowhead Stadium, tailed the entire way by helicopters from local television stations.
His hiring hadn’t even been announced, and he was already receiving rock-star treatment.
The Chiefs ultimately announced Reid’s hiring on Twitter, a few hours after he toured the team’s facilities. A news conference is scheduled for Monday afternoon, but neither the Chiefs nor Reid has spoken to the media or offered a statement upon his hiring.
Leave it to others to sing their praises.
“Excited for the new hiring,” said defensive back DeQuan Menzie, who spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve. “Looking forward to playing for such a highly respected coach.”
Tight end Tony Moeaki tweeted, “Andy Reid though? That’s sweet!” Left tackle Eric Winston also took to Twitter when he was asked his impression, and said: “Excited. Proven winner.”
Winston even said he was looking forward to April and the start of offseason work.
The work is only beginning for Reid, who takes over a team that was just 2-14, but whose own record of 130-93-1 represented the most wins in the history of the Eagles.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Reid had already begun assembling his staff, and the majority of that work could be done soon. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because those details were not public.
It’s expected that Reid will attempt to lure back many names from his best days in Philadelphia, including Pat Shurmur, who was fired as the Cleveland Browns coach on Monday. Shurmur was an assistant with the Eagles from 1999-2008.
Another name that has surfaced is Brad Childress, who was the Browns’ offensive coordinator this past season. He worked in Philadelphia from 1999-2005, first as quarterbacks coach and then as offensive coordinator, before taking the head coaching job in Minnesota in 2006.
Doug Pederson, who played ahead of Donovan McNabb during part of the 1999 season, rejoined the Eagles as an assistant coach in 2009 and could stay with Reid in Kansas City.
Juan Castillo reportedly has an offer from Reid to become his offensive line coach. Castillo was successful in that role with Philadelphia, but after struggling in a new role as defensive coordinator, Reid made a difficult decision to fire him earlier this season.
Reid will also have to fill out his front office.
The Chiefs and general manager Scott Pioli agreed to part ways Friday after four tumultuous seasons, and Hunt appears willing to give Reid a significant say in his replacement.
Longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey, who has turned down overtures from other teams in the past, has been closely linked to Reid in Kansas City. Former Browns GM Tom Heckert, who was a longtime executive in Philadelphia, is also on the list of candidates.
Reid’s new brain trust will have plenty of decisions to make once they’re in place.
Kansas City has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the first time in franchise history, so there will be pressure to dissect the college football all-star games, visit the pro days hosted by schools, and then prepare for the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“We have the first pick in the draft and that’s a unique opportunity,” Hunt told the AP in an interview earlier this week. “On one hand I’m sad we have, because we had to earn it through playing poorly, but on the other hand it’s a great opportunity for us. I think there’s going to be a lot of thought that goes into that pick.”
The Chiefs are in desperate need of improved play at quarterback. They benched Matt Cassel, who has two years left on a $63 million, six-year deal, and struggled the rest of the season with former first-round pick Brady Quinn, who is scheduled to become a free agent.
Kansas City is expected to add at least one quarterback through the draft.
“The GM and the head coach are really going to dictate what the priorities are,” Hunt said, “but clearly better quarterback play is a priority in 2013.”
Along with the draft, the new front office will have to make other personnel decisions.
Defensive end Tyson Jackson, who’s been a disappointment since being the No. 3 overall pick in 2009, is due to make close to $15 million this season. The Chiefs could try to restructure his deal or simply cut him in an attempt to create more money for filling in other holes.
Decisions will also have to be made about left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and even punter Dustin Colquitt, one of their five Pro Bowl selections. All three were key contributors who can become free agents.
“I think the Pro Bowl balloting tells us a little about what coaches and players around the league think about the roster, that there’s some very talented players,” Hunt said. “But at the same time, we all know there are holes and those need to be filled.”
BROWNS: Cleveland has Chip Kelly’s interest. Now they need his signature.
The team is expected to meet with Oregon’s innovative coach again and hopes to complete a deal to make him Cleveland’s sixth fulltime coach since 1999. However, Kelly kept a scheduled meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles and, as of aturday night, hadn’t had his second visit with the Browns.
Kelly and his representatives met with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner for a reported seven hours in Arizona on Friday. They came close to reaching an agreement, but the sides parted company agreeing to speak again, a strong sign that Kelly was leaning toward the Browns.
Kelly also met with the Buffalo Bills, and he decided to keep an appointment with the Eagles, who weren’t going to pursue the 49-year-old after they learned a deal between Kelly and Cleveland was near. It’s possible Kelly and his agent, David Dunn, are meeting with the other teams to gain leverage with the Browns.
PANTHERS: Ron Rivera will return as coach of the Carolina next season following his team’s strong finish.
Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said Rivera met with owner Jerry Richardson Saturday morning and was informed that he will return for a third season. Rivera has two years on his current contract.