If you look at the career paths of Jon Gruden and Andy Reid, one thing bears out: friendly rivalry. These two coaches stood across the sidelines, and even next to each other. Yet, when the Raiders and Chiefs play going forward, the rivalry takes a new turn. In the photo, Gruden stands at the top of the staircase while Reid stands down and to the left.
First, they are branches of the most influential coaching tree in NFL history: Bill Walsh. Gruden’s first NFL job occurred in San Francisco under the tutelage of George Seifert, a Walsh disciple. In 1992, Reid joined the Packers as an offensive assistant, under Mike Holmgren. Within that offensive meeting room, he shared space with Gruden.
When Al Davis traded Gruden to Tampa, the team most likely to face the Buccaneers for NFC dominance was Reid’s Eagles. During Tampa’s Super Bowl run, Reid served as the final conference hurdle for the Bucs. Gruden’s team emerged victorious that day, 27-10.
Unbelievably, the two coaches share similarities. While Gruden is the gregarious, energetic speaker, Reid portrays the essence of calm. Yet, they share a deep passion for offensive football. In other words, each possesses an almost maniacal work ethic. Gruden, famous for arriving to the facility before daybreak, said Reid owns an even greater drive. If Jon Gruden compliments someone’s work habits, they must border on the otherworldly.
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Additionally, the Walsh playcalling blood runs both of their collective veins. Each wants to dictate the pace with the controlled, scripted passing game. However, over the years, Reid evolved into a risk-taker. For example, in Philadelphia, drafting DeSean Jackson to give his team a vertical threat flies in the face of West Coast convention. If you look at the current Chiefs’ offense, Tyreek Hill operates in nearly the same capacity. For Gruden, he will need to take a similar tact. Plus, Reid handed over playcalling duties. Can Gruden get to that point?
Now, the friendship takes a new, challenging turn. From occasional conference rivals to divisional enemies, Gruden and Reid will see each other a minimum of twice each season. In order to claim AFC West supremacy, these longtime friends must run through the other. With that said, expect the warm feelings left for kind words during press conferences and postgame hugs. Without a doubt, they understand the magnitude of Chiefs/Raiders enmity. The fanbases despise each other; the media stirs the pot, and winning remains paramount. The Chiefs, armed with Hill, Kelce, and Hunt will be the biggest threat to the Raiders.
In the final analysis, Jon Gruden and Andy Reid helm teams in the same division. The Raiders, after failing against Kansas City for so long, will employ a sound offensive strategy.