Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in NFL history. After helping the Kansas City Chiefs become one of the best NFL dynasties ever, there are rumors the future Hall of Famer may retire. It’s time to now take a look at Chiefs coaching candidates if Reid walks away.
The Chiefs’ franchise changed when they hired Reid almost immediately after he was dismissed by the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of the 2011 season. He’s now become an all-time legend in Chiefs’ history, overseeing the development of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and winning two Super Bowls. On the verge of turning 66 years old, though, rumors have been persistent that Reid might step away.
- Andy Reid coaching record: 258-144-1 overall, 128-51 with the Kansas City Chiefs
Let’s dive into our Chiefs coaching candidates for 2024.
Mike Kafka, New York Giants offensive coordinator
If Reid ultimately retires, one of the top Chiefs coaching candidates will be New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. While he’s shared play-calling duties with Brian Daboll and the Giants’ offense struggled in 2022, the Chiefs’ organization is extremely high on Kafka as a future NFL head coach.
Related: Kansas City Chiefs draft picks 2024
“He’s a very intelligent, great human being,. The quarterback will love him. He’ll challenge him to be better than he even is now. But he’ll do a great job.”Kansas City Chiefs HC Andy Reid’s message to the Arizona Cardinals on Mike Kafka in 2023
Before becoming the Giants’ offensive coordinator, Kafka was an understudy in Kansas City. He spent just one season as a graduate assistant at Northwestern before reuniting with Reid, his coach when Kafka played quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles (2010-’11), as an offensive quality control coach in Kansas City.
“Coach Kafka is a special person and a special coach. He kind of took me when I first got here — he was quality control (coach) and that was my first year as a rookie, so I spent a lot of hours with Coach Kafka where he was teaching me the playbook and teaching me how to be a quarterback in the NFL.”Patrick Mahomes on New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka
Reid promoted Kafka to quarterbacks coach after just one season as the OQCC. Following the promotion in 2018, Kafka was directly involved in Mahomes’ MVP season in his first year as a starting quarterback. Kafka stuck around as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator through the 2021 season, before taking a promotion with New York in 2022. Considering his reputation as an offensive mind and his familiarity with the Chiefs’ franchise, Kafka might be the odds-on favorite to succeed Reid.
Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator
Kansas City changed its identity after the Tyreek Hill trade. The Chiefs’ front office devoted cap space and draft capital to the defense, putting a lot of pressure on defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to make the most of it. All the veteran defensive play-caller has done is orchestrate one of the best defenses in football since the second half of the 2022 season, accomplishing that with a lot of inexperienced players in the process.
Related: NFL defense rankings
“I still think Spags should be up for Assistant Coach of the Year. I mean, what has [he] been able to do with this defense from last year to this year? And how he was able to overcome a lot of humps, how he was able to force a lot of guys to grow. You look at last year. We gave up a lot of big plays and came back this year.”Chris Jones on Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
He’s still working with one of the youngest defenses in the NFL today and he’s created a top-5 defense all year. Even as the Chiefs’ offense struggled in the regular season, Spagnuolo’s defense consistently either kept the team in games or single-handedly won matchups.
|EPA per Play
|3rd Down Rate
|Weeks 14-18 (2022)
Considering the importance of team culture for Kansas City, promoting Spagnuolo to head coach would also be well-received in the locker room. If he did become the head coach, the Chiefs could bring back Eric Bieniemy as an assistant with Matt Nagy, David Girardi and Joe Bleymaier running the offense.
Ben Johnson, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator
There’s a difference between turning down opportunities with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders versus becoming the successor to Reid in Kansas City. Johnson is very loyal to Dan Campbell and wants to win a championship for Detroit. However, everyone involved would recognize the opportunity the Chiefs could be offering.
Related: Grading NFL coaching hires 2024
|Yards per Play
|3rd Down Rate
|Red Zone TD Rate
This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Johnson, a path offering him the best chance to win a Super Bowl and potentially become one of the best coaches in football. In Detroit, Johnson helped quarterback Jared Goff go from a player everyone wrote off to one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Plus, he would have at least another year with Travis Kelce, years to come with Rashee Rice and arguably the most talented quarterback in NFL history.
Kansas City’s hope would obviously be that Johnson would be willing to keep Spagnuolo around as defensive coordinator, which seems likely considering his success and respect in the locker room. Pair those two together and the Chiefs’ dynasty can continue without missing a step.
Eric Bieniemy, former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
NFL teams wouldn’t hire Eric Bieniemy as a head coach over the years in part because many attributed his success to Reid and Mahomes. Fittingly, Kansas City’s offense got worse following Bieniemy’s departure and he helped the Washington Commadners’ passing game improve.
There’s no denying that Bieniemy isn’t for everyone. He ruffled some feathers in Washington with players who weren’t used to his coaching style. However, the Chiefs’ locker room is used to him and Mahomes has been one of the strongest advocates for Bieniemy.
“I think I saw EB said it perfectly. EB is going to be harsh on you. He’s going to really try to get the best out of you every single day. “He’s going to hold you accountable whenever you don’t even want to hold yourself accountable. And it made me a better player. I think what he said that was the biggest thing is that he’s your No. 1 supporter, though. He will go to war with you just like any other guy on your team. And you’ve got to know that. And you’ve got to know when he’s talking to you on the football field, he’s trying to get the best out of you.Patrick Mahomes on former assistant coach Eric Bieniemy
Plus, his track record as an offensive coordinator speaks for itself. Chiefs’ players credited Bieniemy heavily for his film study playing a significant role in the Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs offense by year
|Yards per Play
|RZ TD rate
|EPA per Play
Bieniemy may fit in just one place. He resonates with Mahomes and the Chiefs’ skill players and his skills as both a play-caller and film junkie would be welcomed back in Kansas City. Ideally, it would be just adding him to the Chiefs coaching staff, but he is someone who will merit serious consideration for head coach if Reid retires.
Bill Belichick, former New England Patriots head coach
If there is one head-coaching job Bill Belichick might be willing to put aside his traditional ways for, it’s in Kansas City. He’s at his best with an MVP-caliber quarterback running the offense while he can devote all of his time to the defense.
Don’t let the New England Patriots record in 2023 fool you either, Belichick’s defense was playing outstanding football. What’s truly remarkable is that he still fielded a top-10 defense despite losing a handful of starters early in the year to season-ending injuries.
New England Patriots defense 2023
|Off. TDs per Game
|Yards per Play
|3rd Down rate
|RZ TD Rate
|EPA per Play
Belichick is just as good as Reid at preparing his team for games, finding opponents’ weaknesses and making sure his team executes the little details that matter. If Kansas City wanted to avoid taking any risks on an experienced head coach, Belichick is the best option.
All of this is dependent, however, on Belichick. If he refuses to sacrifice control over the roster and insists on bringing his guys to Kansas City – Matt Patricia and Joe Judge – the Chiefs are better off without him. Kansas City is the one team that can play hardball with Belichick because they are the only one who gives him a strong shot to win another Super Bowl and become the winningest coach in NFL history. If he won’t make changes for Mahomes, no NFL team may touch him in 2025.