Andy Reid had no other choice.
The Kansas City coach cut ties this week with his defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, a move that was probably one year late. It appears, from all reports, that Steve Spagnuolo is going to take his place and the two are familiar with each other going back to their Philadelphia days.
The expected hiring, however, has been received with lukewarm reaction considering Spagnuolo's failures as a head coach and was out of football for the last year.
Chiefs fans had been calling for Sutton’s job for 2 years. He was regarded as a loyal soldier and never threw any of his players under the bus with public criticism. But the regression of his defense has been like an avalanche.
Sutton had been with Reid from the start of their Kansas City run. While the Chiefs had better-than-good defenses in his first couple of years, the collapse in the playoffs last year against Tennessee was a harbinger of things to come.
This year’s unit, from Day One, was one of the NFL’s worst. Statistically the Chiefs were next-to-last or last much of the season. They sporadically turned in a decent effort, but for the most part it was bad, bad, bad.
When you look at the defense, the talent belies the numbers. The Chiefs tied for the AFC lead with Pittsburgh in sacks, while the linebacking corps — on paper at least — should easily rank among the Top 15. Justin Houston carries an albatross of a contract but is still above the norm, Dee Ford is a rising star, Anthony Hitchens was the top free-agent acquisition and Reggie Ragland was a big-time college player and has been decent as a pro.
The secondary has been the sore spot and it was a revolving door, especially with Eric Berry’s injury. Sutton tried his best to cover up the back end’s deficiencies to no avail.
Kansas City’s offseason focus, of course, will be on defense. Expect most of the picks to be on that side of the ball, not to mention the Chiefs will be looking at free agents, especially in the secondary.
I would think players can see what’s happening in Kansas City and be attracted to the excitement. They know the Chiefs are a team on the rise, due greatly to the emergence of Patrick Mahomes as a quarterback superstar. They also see a team that with any defense at all, can take that next big step to the Super Bowl.
And to hear most of the Chiefs talk, at least publicly, Reid is a players' coach. He is fiercely loyal and never has a bad word to say about any of them. He could have gone off on Marcus Peters during his tumultuous tenure, yet always tried to find the best in the troubled cornerback.
Hopefully Reid will find the right guy, somebody with fresh ideas to shore up a unit that was horrible against the run and not much better against the pass. Sometimes it just takes that one coach to make the difference between making the Super Bowl and losing in the AFC Championship Game.