Upon being hired by the Eagles, Chip Kelly told Andy Reid he "had big shoes to fill." (AP)
Every time he walks from the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex to his second-floor office, Chip Kelly is reminded of what Andy Reid means to the franchise and the footsteps he’s following.
“I have great respect for Andy,” Kelly said Tuesday, two days before he squares off against the former Eagles coach on national television at the Linc, when the Eagles play host to Kansas City.
“He was a head coach here for 14 years and if you’re a coach in the NFL, anybody that coaches in one spot 14 years, you kind of look to them and say, ‘Holy smokes.’
“You just walk down these hallways and look at the championships that were won here -- the division championships, conference championships, and what he’s done -- he’s had a huge impact on this organization. I’ve got a ton of respect for him.”
Reid, the winningest coach in Eagles history, was fired last year after the Eagles went 4-12, their worst record since going 3-13 under Ray Rhodes in 1998. Rhodes was fired after that season and owner Jeffrey Lurie hired Reid, at the time a quarterbacks coach for Green Bay.
Upon hiring Kelly, Lurie said in a press conference that his new coach had very similar qualities to the prior one, noting Kelly’s offensive mind and reputation for being a forward-thinking program builder.
Reid’s impact on Kansas City’s downward spiraling franchise is already being felt. The Chiefs, who won just two games last year, bring their 2-0 record into Thursday night’s showdown against Kelly’s Eagles.
“There’s not a lot of guys out there in this profession that have carried themselves, from a coaching standpoint, when you get a chance to be around them, like Andy Reid,” Kelly said. "I’ve got all the respect in the world [for him]. It’s exciting to get a chance to go compete against him and it should be a lot of fun.”
Reid’s .587 winning percentage is sixth-best among active NFL head coaches, and his 132 wins -- 130 with the Eagles -- rank fifth. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the only active head coach with more trips to the playoffs than Reid, who has been there nine times.
If he can coax the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, Reid could become just the sixth head coach in NFL history to take two different franchises to the title game. Don Shula, Dan Reeves, Mike Holmgren, Bill Parcells and Dick Vermeil are the first five.
Kelly spoke to Reid when he accepted Lurie’s offer to become the Eagles’ newest head coach, but Kelly said he hasn’t since reached out to Reid for advice.
“I talked to Andy when he got the job and he said, ‘Be yourself,’ and I told him I had big shoes to fill,” Kelly said. “And he said, ‘You’ll do a good job,’ and that was it.”