I don't envy Andy Reid.
Kansas City finished the season 2-14, earning themselves the top pick in this year's NFL draft. This is a great time for a team to fill their biggest need. And in today's NFL, a 2-14 team more often than not needs a new QB. Lo and behold, the Kansas City Chiefs need a new QB.
Riddle me this: What had less than 3,000 yards passing, 8 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions, drew the ire of Chiefs fans everywhere, and contributed to the loss of head coaching and general manager jobs? The answer? The QB tandem of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. Those are some abysmal numbers for any quarterback in the modern era, let alone one in today's pass happy league. A new QB is needed, and needed quickly.
Some may point out that the Chiefs have a formidable rushing attack and a pieces in place for a good young defense and perhaps the quarterback position isn't as important as it would seem for this team and for Andy Reid. Well in 2012 there were 10 quarterbacks in the NFL with a passer rating over 90. (I understand that passer rating is not a perfect metric, but without going completely nerd out with advanced metrics, let's just assume that it is a least some sort of gauge for overall quarterback efficiency.) Of those 10 quarterbacks, 9 of them made the playoffs. In 2011 it is the same story, 9 of 10 quarterbacks with a passer rating over 90 made the playoffs. In 2010 it was 9 of 13. And in 2009 it was 9 of 12. So in the last four years 80% of the quarterbacks with 90 passer rating or better made the playoffs. Another way to look at it is that 3 out of every 4 playoff quarterbacks had a passer rating over 90.
Not only is good quarterback play important to the NFL in general, Andy Reid coached teams seem to win exclusively with good quarterback play. Since 2004 the Eagles have had 4 seasons of 10 or more wins (2004, 2006, 2009, & 2010). Coincidentally those are the only 4 seasons that the Eagles QB has had a passer rating over 90. Whenever Reid's QB lost efficiency, the team struggled. As a coach of the west coast offense, this is nothing new or surprising. But what this tells me is that an Andy Reid team needs to have a good quarterback play to be effective and a running game alone will not propel the team to victory, just ask Brian Westbrook and Shady McCoy.
So back to the original thought process...
Kansas City needs a QB. Kansas City is picking first. Perfect, right? Wrong.
If this were 2012 it would be perfect. The Colts had their choice of Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. If this were 2011 it would be OK. Cam Newton was available then. There is no Sam Bradford (2010) or Matt Stafford (2009). There is Geno Smith. Geno Smith is no Andrew Luck. Geno Smith is no Cam Newton. Geno Smith may not even be a Sam Bradford. This is not to say Smith can't be a great quarterback and everything that the Chiefs need. But Smith is not the bonafide consensus number one draft pick that you hope to use to fill the most important position on the field.
So what does Andy Reid do? There is a ton of defensive talent at the top of this draft. Geno Smith is a mid to late first round prospect according to a lot of draft "experts". Does Reid take his QB, value be damned? Or does he draft the best player available and roll with Cassel, Quinn, or a free agent to be named later?
A team in need of a QB normally wants the first round pick as a recipe to redemption. In 2013 though, it's not all it's cracked up to be.
I don't envy Andy Reid.