What Is Andy Reid’s Coaching Tree & Has It Really Helped The Chiefs Win?

10 of his former assistants have moved on to head coaching jobs.

Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media during Super Bowl Opening Night
Michael Reaves / Getty Images

10 of his former assistants have moved on to head coaching jobs.

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, who will take on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, has a coaching tree that’s been one of the most successful of current NFL head coaches, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer opines.

In the NFL analysis industry, a coaching tree can reveal quite a bit about how a coach got to where he is, and what his legacy will be once he’s retired.


A Coaching Tree Is Like A Family Tree Meets A Resume

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 19: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on in the second half against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
  David Eulitt / Getty Images

As The Washington Post reported in 2018, think of a coaching tree as like a family tree. It documents the relationship between a National Football League (NFL) coach and all the assistant coaches who have worked for him as well as the head coaches he’s worked for in his career.

So, for example, if a certain assistant coach worked for a certain head coach for at least a season, then that assistant coach would be under that head coach in much the same way that a son would be under his father on a family tree.

Because NFL coaches move around from job to job rather frequently in their careers, both laterally and moving up (from an assistant coaching job to a head coaching job) and down (vice versa) in the process, coaching trees can get kind of muddled.

“When you’re an assistant and you’ve been on a few staffs, you’re on all kinds of trees. It’s a forest,” said former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci.

Indeed, at one point during the 2018 preseason, 28 of the 32 head coaches in the NFL could trace their lineage (in a manner of speaking) to head coaches Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.

Oddly enough, one of those four head coaches who couldn’t be connected to Parcells and/or Belichick was none other than Andy Reid.


Reid’s Coaching Tree Has Been Wildly Successful

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 19: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs holds up the Lamar Hunt trophy after defeating the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Titans 35-24. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
  David Eulitt / Getty Images

Reid’s biggest mentor and influence — the man who would occupy the metaphorical position as his father on his coaching tree — would be Mike Holmgren, the legendary coach for whom Reid worked for seven years as a tight ends and quarterbacks coach

Reid’s metaphorical sons, who served as assistants when he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, have also gone on to great things in their careers.

For example, 10 of the men who served as assistant coaches to Reid with the Eagles have gone on to get head coaching jobs elsewhere in the NFL. Of those 10, seven have taken their new teams to the playoffs.

Four of the 10 — Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson, Carolina’s Ron Rivera, and ex-Minnesota coach Brad Childress — have taken their teams as far as the conference championship round. Rivera, Harbaugh, and Pederson all made it to the Super Bowl, and Harbaugh and Pederson have both coached their teams to a Super Bowl win.

“I look for good teachers and good people, and so normally that’s a foundation for a good head coach down the road. Normally, good teachers and good people are decent leaders, so they can do all that stuff. They can communicate, they’re good with others, all of that,” Reid says of his coaching philosophy.

Reid also adds that he generally approaches his assistant coaches with the attitude that he hopes they will all someday be head coaches.


It’s Hard To Pin The Chiefs’ Success Just On Reid’s Coaching Tree

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 19: Head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts in the first half against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
  David Eulitt / Getty Images

Pinning a team’s successes or failures on any one thing is, of course, a fool’s game. The number of factors that can contribute to a team’s success is immeasurable, from the support the team gets from its front office, to how well the groundskeepers keep up the playing surface, and everything in between.

But, there’s no doubt that Andy Reid comes from a line of quality NFL coaches, and his coaching philosophy has led both himself and other men who have worked for him to greatness.