Kansas City, Mo. The Kansas City Chiefs hadn’t hired a general manager to make crucial personnel decisions. Andy Reid hadn’t hired a single assistant coach.
That hardly seemed to matter.
The more pressing concern, at least for those who attended Reid’s introductory news conference Monday, was what the longtime Philadelphia Eagles coach plans to do at quarterback.
The Chiefs’ biggest area of need coincides with the most important position on the field. It’s the biggest reason why the Chiefs went 2-14 last season, and why Reid was hired to replace Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs were looking for a new general manager.
“The quarterback position, I’m going to dig in and look at that and we’ll build that thing,” Reid said. “We’ll see how that works out, but I need to spend some time to look at that.”
Reid plans to start by analyzing the quarterbacks on last season’s roster — Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi — even though it will likely be discouraging.
Cassel, who has two years left on a six-year, $63 million deal, dealt with a variety of injuries the past couple seasons, including a concussion this year. He was 1-7 as a starter before being benched in favor of Quinn, after throwing six touchdown passes and 12 interceptions.
Quinn fared little better, throwing two touchdown passes and eight interceptions while also going 1-7 as a starter. Stanzi, a former fifth-round pick, was so poor during preseason that he never got on the field even when Cassel and Quinn struggled.
Altogether, the Chiefs’ quarterbacks directed an offense that was last in the NFL in scoring at 13.2 points per game, and failed to score an offensive touchdown six times.
“Clearly,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said, “better quarterback play is a priority in 2013.”
That’s one of the reasons that Hunt targeted Reid to be the Chiefs’ next coach.
When he inherited the Eagles in 1999, they were coming off a 3-13 season in part because of their own shaky quarterback play. His options at the time were Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying and Rodney Peete — not a whole lot better than what the Chiefs had to work with this season.
But the Eagles’ poor record meant they had the No. 2 pick in that year’s draft, and rather than spend it on Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams or fellow running back Edgerrin James, Reid decided that the most important upgrade he could make would be at quarterback.
So he weighed several who were available — Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown — before settling on Donovan McNabb, who was perhaps the least-regarded of them all.
McNabb wound up going to six Pro Bowls, led the Eagles to the Super Bowl.