This is a mismatch, right now.
Andy Reid is heading to the Hall of Fame, and by comparison we still don’t know about Nick Sirianni. Reid was the greatest coach in Eagles’ history, turning around a dormant program into a perennial NFL contender from the charred embers Ray Rhodes left from his last season. Many of the philosophical tenets Reid instituted with Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie still remain with the franchise and are probably a reason why the Eagles are meeting the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.
Since arriving in Kansas City, Reid is 3-0 against the Eagles, and views the team as “a little brother.”
Still, Reid will be ready for the team he formerly coached for 14 years, despite the lingering emotional ties.
“I think, when you really cut to the chase on it, (the Eagles are) a really good football team and so, I think that’s where the energy goes because really when it’s kickoff, you’re playing that team,” he said. “It’s the players that you’re going against and the coaches and so the uniform, (and) all that’s not where your mind’s at. Your minds at making sure you have a solid game plan and that you come out and you can perform to the best of our ability. That’s I think where the major focus goes, and you try to—it doesn’t matter who you’re playing you try to blank out all the hype that goes with the game. It’s a pretty big game for everybody, you guys included, it’s a big, big deal. It’s the Super Bowl. But you try to blank that out and make sure that you’re getting the game plan—what really matters—together.”
There are striking differences between Reid and Sirianni, all based on experience. Reid has 21 NFL career postseason wins, the second-most ever by a head coach and is 21-16 overall in the postseason, while Sirianni is 2-1 with a loaded team that is probably the most talented from top-to-bottom in the NFL.
For the third-consecutive season, the Chiefs led the NFL in total offense (413.6 yards per game) and in scoring offense (29.2 points per game). The Eagles’ pass rush, which has produced 78 sacks in 2022 and is the third-most ever by a team in a single season, including playoffs, will attempt to offset that.
Since leaving Philadelphia, Reid’s time management has improved exponentially. Since taking over the Chiefs, Reid has garnered a 117-45 record, won Super Bowl LIV in 2019 and lost Super Bowl LV in 2020. The Chiefs only missed the playoffs once in the 10 years he’s been with the Chiefs, and he’ll surpass Hall of Famer Hank Stram next season as the coach with the most victories in Kansas City Chiefs’ history.
Reid is going to be the fifth head coach to face his former team in the Super Bowl, joining New York Jets’ Weeb Ewbank (Colts), Seattle’s Pete Carroll (Patriots), Tampa Bay’s Jon Gruden (Raiders) and Atlanta’s Dan Reeves (Broncos). Those coaches went 2-2 against their former teams.
Sirianni can become a folk hero in Philadelphia if the Eagles win this. He has no points of reference against Reid, other than the one game in 2021 when Sirianni faced Reid. There really was not much of a difference between the two teams. Even though the Chiefs won, 42-30, on Oct. 3, 2021, Kansas City got 31 first downs to the Eagles’ 30 in that game, and only gained 10 yards more in total offense, 471-461. A mere eight seconds separated the teams in time of possession. What crushed the Eagles was Patrick Mahomes converting 9 of 10 third downs to the Eagles’ 6 of 12 and adding to that were nine Eagles’ penalties that day.
So, ask yourself this: Since October 2021, which one of the two teams is markedly better, and what head coach has arced upward in that time, while the other may have remained stagnant?
Coaches scheme against coaches—not players. They break down tendencies and examine situations. Reid has the experience factor on his side, but his tendencies and situational calls are known. The league is still learning about Nick Sirianni. He makes ballsy moves and defies old-school football logic. The rest of the world may find out more on Sunday. The only fear is knowing he has the superior team, will Sirianni go conservative and play not to lose, and yank in the reigns rather than take the risks he took during the regular season and NFC playoffs?
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.