Reid and Smith lead the Kansas City Redemption. (Courtesy:USATSI)
Andy Reid and Alex Smith were cast aside by their former teams, now they’ve joined together to write their own redemption song—turning a 2-14 team into a Super Bowl Contender in less then 10 months.
Alex Smith spent seven up and down years in a San Francisco 49er uniform. He fought off nagging injuries, several veteran backup QB acquisitions and a revolving door of Head Coaches and Offensive Coordinators, only to be replaced when he was finally settling in and proving himself worthy of being drafted #1 overall in 2005.
Andy Reid spent fourteen up and down season as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles—one of those included a Super Bowl appearance and four NFC Championship game loses—while dealing with a testy fan base that wanted him gone after every NFC Championship loss, injuries to his franchise QB Donovan McNabb, criticism of his lack of a more physical running game and defensive philosophy—oh and Terrell Owens—only to be released during one of the most difficult times of his life.
2012 was Reid’s most challenged season as he mourned his son’s death. (Courtesy: Mel Evans/AP)
Last season, Reid’s son Garrett was found dead during the Philadelphia Eagles 2012 training camp. I’m not a parent, but I’ve been told that every parent’s worse nightmare is to out live their child. So when that happened, one could imagine that football was the last thing on Andy Reid’s mind during the season. The Eagles finished the season 4-12, missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. From 1999 to 2012, Reid led Philadelphia to 130 wins. It still wasn’t enough to stave off the chants of those who said it was time for a new voice in the locker room. It even seemed like in the final weeks of the season, Reid accepted it was time to move on too.
Less traumatic for Alex Smith, he suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams in the 2012 season and was Wally Pipp’ed by Colin Kaepernick. This after leading the 49ers to within a muffed punt return of the Super Bowl in the 2012 playoffs, and starting the following season posting career best numbers. By the way, San Francisco was 6-2 at the time of his Injury.
Smith supported Kaepernick, even when he knew his time in San Francisco was over. (Courtesy: AP)
His record (38-36-1) and average stats (59.3% completion, 81 TDs to 63 Ints )—in addition to Kaepernick’s potential—are ultimately what made Coach Jim Harbaugh and 49er management feel comfortable moving on without him.
Smith, like Reid during his painful struggle, handled the benching with grace. He said and did all the right things while helping his replacement. That is why so many are rooting for his redemption and Reid as well. In the offseason, both men were notified their services were no longer needed. Reid was released, Smith later traded to Kansas City, when Reid got the job. Reid wanted Smith, which makes this redemption story even sweeter.
The problem with Smith in San Francisco was, he was always the other regime’s guy. Making matters worse, he was chosen over Aaron Rogers as the Niners contemplated picking him instead.
Smith is now Andy Reid’s guy, and he’s proving to be a good choice. In Kansas City he’s playing for a team that is similarly built to the 49er one he almost lead to a Super Bowl and probably would’ve led to Super Bowl 47 had he not been benched.
The Chiefs Defense gives up only 12.3 points per game, while scoring 6 TDs (4 Ints, 2 Fumbles) for a Head Coach who has been known more for his offensive mentality, than his defense. The Chiefs’ D also leads the league in takeaways and defensive touchdowns. Meanwhile Smith is proving he is more than a game manager—(9 TDs, 1,919 yards, 4 TOs, 81.4 RTG )—a label many have negatively placed on him. Now he has Kansas City playing their best since 2000.
BUT, there has been some reservation over the undefeated start because of the competition they’ve faced—five backup quarterbacks— but it’s not their fault, they’ve just played the teams on the schedule.
Now comes their toughest test of the season. After their bye week, the Chiefs face Peyton Manning and division foe Denver Broncos (8-1) twice, followed by a match up with another talented QB in Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers, twice. The rest of the schedule also gets tougher than their first nine games.
Most “experts” will predict the Broncos to beat the Chiefs for their first loss of the season. They’ll also use a loss as a way to discount their 9-0 start. BUT, what if they win? On Monday November 18th, 2013, when Kansas City is 10-0, the last undefeated team in the NFL, will they be the favorites to hold up the Lombardi Trophy at midfield of MetLife Stadium on a cold, snowy, windy early February night (hopefully) in the Tri-State area?
They should be, and judging by these two men’s pasts in the league, that will be the perfect, REDEMPTION.