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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Kansas City rebuild under Andy Reid can light the way for Jets

Head coach Andy Reid of Kansas City and

Head coach Andy Reid of Kansas City and head coach Adam Gase of the Jets shake hands following their NFL game at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 1, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. Credit: Getty Images/Jamie Squire

They were the NFL’s worst team, finishing a dismal season with one of the worst records in franchise history.

The coach was fired.

They earned the first overall draft pick the following year.

The 1996 Jets? Yes.

And another team, too. The team the Jets were walloped by, 35-9, on Sunday afternoon.

Hard to believe it was only eight years ago, but Kansas City was the NFL’s version of this year’s Jets.

Kansas City was 2-14 and Romeo Crennel was fired as the franchise hit rock bottom. But out of that mess came the beginning of what the Jets saw Sunday, as Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes combined forces in another splendid afternoon of football for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Reid came to Kansas City in 2013 to bring coaching stability, and he added a huge piece in Mahomes in 2017 to form what would become the NFL’s most dominant team and very likely the league’s next dynasty.

In 2012, this day felt like a million miles away for Kansas City fans, just as the mere idea of watching a playoff team feels completely foreign to Jets fans who have trudged through one disappointment after another.

This was another in a series of mind-numbing double-digit losses that dropped the Jets to 0-8 and their own appointment with the first overall pick. And it surely will be a different coach helping general manager Joe Douglas decide on that choice, in all likelihood a quarterback to supplant Sam Darnold.

Reid went with left tackle Eric Fisher as his first choice, but only after he solidified the quarterback position by trading for San Francisco’s Alex Smith. Reid made the playoffs in three of his four seasons with Smith and then brought Kansas City into Super Bowl prominence with Mahomes, who did a number on the Jets with five touchdown passes before Reid had him put on a baseball cap to watch from the sideline for much of the fourth quarter.

The mere idea of seeing this kind of magic with the Jets eight years from now must feel unfathomable for even the most diehard fan. And truth be told, there most likely will never come a day like that, because finding a Hall of Fame coach and a generational quarterback are two of the hardest things for any NFL franchise.

But tomorrow is all that Jets fans have today, and hope is all that’s left. It has been that way far too many times for this beleaguered franchise, but that’s the way it is.

But Kansas City fans were in much the same predicament after the 2012 season, which was the team’s fifth losing season in six years. That run of futility included another 2-14 record in 2008.

Those same fans in 2020 now get to behold a team for the ages. Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL. Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman are two of the fastest receivers you’ll ever see. (Just ask the Jets’ defensive backs, who surrendered a combined 194 yards and three receiving touchdowns to the duo on Sunday.) Tight end Travis Kelce is the league’s best tight end. (Just ask the Jets’ linebackers, who were shredded for 109 yards and a touchdown by Kelce.)

Tackle Chris Jones and pass rusher Frank Clark, with safety Tyrann Mathieu, headline one of the league’s top defenses. (Just ask Darnold, who was held to 133 passing yards and no touchdowns.)

Most of the Jets starters from Sunday’s game would be backups for Kansas City, just as many players from that 2012 team would have been backups elsewhere.

But if it’s always darkest before dawn, perhaps Jets fans can draw some inspiration from the team that improved to 7-1. If Douglas can find the right coach and the right quarterback next year, and if he can continue to make smart moves in the draft — he seems to have done so in 2020 with left tackle Mekhi Becton, wide receiver Denzel Mims, safety Austin Davis and running back La’Mical Perine — then this year’s teardown can result in at least a promising rebuild.

It might not wind up as good as Kansas City, because this could be one of the greatest teams in NFL history. But it will look a heck of a lot better than what the Jets put out there Sunday. And what they’ll continue to put out there in these last eight games of the most brutal year in franchise history.

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