Patrick Mahomes-Andy Reid Could Be NFL's Brady-Belichick of the 2020sFebruary 3, 2021
When it comes to a head coach and a quarterback, the 21st-century NFL has belonged to two men. It was Tom Brady and Bill Belichick's world—every other signal-caller and coach were just living in it.
Beginning in February 2002 and ending in February 2019, the Brady-Belichick New England Patriots went on a run of postseason dominance the likes of which the NFL had never seen. The Pats represented the AFC in fully half the Super Bowls that took place over that span—winning six.
The Patriots dynasty is over, compliments of Brady's move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last offseason. That preceded a campaign that will culminate Sunday at Super Bowl LV in Brady's attempt to become the second starting quarterback to win championships with two teams.
Standing between him and a seventh Super Bowl win are the Kansas City Chiefs, who are attempting to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since Brady's Patriots were victorious in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX.
It will be a while before the Chiefs can be mentioned in the same breath as those Patriots—who won their second title in Brady's age-26 season—but since taking the reins in 2013, head coach Andy Reid has molded his team into a perennial contender. The 2017 arrival of quarterback Patrick Mahomes boosted Kansas City from yearly contender to Super Bowl favorite.
And if the Chiefs (as many expect) seal the deal and win on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the NFL will have its next dynastic duo, and a pair who could rule the league for the better part of the next decade.
NFL players and coaches generally avoid looking too far ahead and using the "D" word. But as Cody Benjamin reported for CBSSports.com, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones wasn't shy about his career goals: being part of a run of success that would match (or even exceed) what the Patriots pulled off over the past 20 years.
"This is why you play the game. I'm trying to get in the Hall of Fame one day. When I retire, I want to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is the reason you play the game. I want to retire with, like, six or seven rings. When you (win) a ring, that changes the perspective of things. It makes you feel like you've achieved something in the game, other than personal stats."
This is where it's important to point out that Kansas City's recent success involves more than just a head coach and quarterback. Whether it's wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and tackle Mitchell Schwartz on offense, or Jones, edge-rusher Frank Clark and safety Tyrann Mathieu on defense, the Chiefs have a talented roster on both sides of the ball.
And per the Associated Press, Reid indicated that general manager Brett Veach (who took over in 2017) deserves quite a bit of credit both for building that roster and keeping it together as players earned lucrative extensions.
"To sign back the players he signed back, to keep the team as whole as he possibly could—easier said than done there," Reid said, "but I think that continuity between the players and the coaches has been a positive up to this point. We all kind of know what needs to be done."
However, Veach was quick to point out that the foundation in Kansas City is built on two men—the head coach and quarterback:
"I think the process we have; we had a good core — a good nucleus — with Pat [Mahomes] and Chris [Jones] and Tyrann [Mathieu], and I think in our mind it was just fill in as much talent as we could. I think when you have a Hall of Fame coach and the best player in the National Football League, you're going to have a chance to win every game."
Reid is the elder statesman in Kansas City both in terms of age and tenure—the 62-year-old joined the team after 14 seasons (and one Super Bowl trip) as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the eight seasons since, Reid has steered the Chiefs through the most successful era in franchise history. Just once over that span has Kansas City won fewer than 10 games, after posting losing seasons in five of six campaigns preceding Reid's arrival. In each of the past five years, the Chiefs have won the AFC West, and the team set a record in 2020 by hosting the AFC title game for a third consecutive season.
Reid's 91 regular-season wins rank third in Chiefs history, trailing only Marty Schottenheimer and the great Hank Stram. Reid leads the Chiefs in all-time winning percentage (.711) and playoff victories (seven).
In case you were wondering, Belichick's winning percentage in New England is slightly higher (.726) but definitely in the ballpark.
Reid may have been the architect of Kansas City's return to respectability, but it was Mahomes' insertion into the starting lineup that sent things into hyperdrive.
In Mahomes' second NFL season (and first as Kansas City's starting quarterback), he became just the second signal-caller in league history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in the same season on the way to being named NFL MVP. The following year, 2019, Mahomes threw for just over 4,000 yards and 26 scores in 14 games before leading Kansas City to its first championship in half a century.
Now here Mahomes is, back in the Super Bowl again after another MVP-caliber season—4,740 passing yards, 38 scores and just six picks. Not a bad start for a 25-year-old who is one overtime loss to Brady's Patriots (in which he never touched the ball in extra time) away from three straight Super Bowl appearances.
In three seasons as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs, Mahomes has lost all of nine games and won 43. That's a winning percentage of .827, if numbers are your thing.
Reid told reporters Tuesday that it hasn't been difficult to quickly forge a strong bond with his star quarterback:
"It's no different from how you'd raise a child or a marriage or any relationship with another human being. I think if you just keep it open and real, I think that's the best way to roll with it. That's how I've done with Patrick. I'm in the business where these guys want to be the best. The thing I've found with great players is they want you to give them one more thing so they can even be greater."
By all indications, it's a match made in heaven—or hell, if you're one of the other teams in the AFC.
A lot of boxes still need to be checked before Mahomes and Reid can challenge the Brady-Belichick pairing in the pantheon of NFL greatness. The Chiefs are attempting this year to do something the Pats were the last to accomplish, though. Whether it's Josh Allen in Buffalo, Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, Baker Mayfield in Cleveland or even Justin Herbert in Los Angeles, the AFC is choked with promising young passers.
Never mind that Reid is a decade older than Belichick was when he led New England to consecutive Super Bowl wins.
But Reid has given no indication he's considering retirement anytime soon. Mahomes has given no indication he's willing to give up his title as king of the mountain in the AFC either. And if the Chiefs down Brady's Bucs on Sunday and lift another Lombardi Trophy as champions of Super Bowl LV, it will be hard to deny that the NFL's next dynasty has arrived.
Especially since it would afford Mahomes and Reid the chance to do something no one else ever has.
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