Amidst an offseason that’s been marked by the controversy surrounding wide receiver Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs has been productive — though quiet — in doing what they are supposed to do: improving the team for head coach Andy Reid. But are they a legitimate Super Bowl contender?
The Chiefs have cut ties with some albatross contracts, including getting Justin Houston’s massive deal off the books and parting ways with former franchise cornerstone Eric Berry. This has freed up money for players in need of extensions soon — starting with Patrick Mahomes II.
What’s obvious is this: After falling to the New England Patriots in overtime of last year’s AFC title game, the Chiefs are in “win now” mode. What’s less obvious, though, is the Chiefs’ biggest obstacle in their route to a Lombardi Trophy.
The point: Is New England the largest roadblock for the Chiefs, or is it head coach Andy Reid?
- The Patriots have been historically good for an insanely long time, appearing in the AFC Championship game in each of the last eight years and winning five of those matchups.
- Reid, a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach, has had no issue getting to title games. Reaching the Super Bowl, though, has been a different story.
- It’s somewhat unclear who will cause the Chiefs more trouble in bringing home the Lombardi.
Getting there: The path to the Super Bowl still goes through Foxborough.
- An unfortunate reality for the Chiefs is that the team is more-than-likely going to have to move past the Pats if it ever wants a shot at a championship.
- At 41 years old, Tom Brady has shown minimal signs of aging and he “fully intends” to play through the year 2022.
- Brady and legendary coach Bill Belichick have won six rings since the quarterback rose to stardom in 2000. Despite its aging roster, New England is still the team to beat in the AFC.
Collosal collapses: Reid can’t get the job done.
- Patriots aside, Reid has never been able to win the last game of the season. After nearly two decades of serving as a head coach in the NFL, and six trips to conference title games, he’s never been able to secure a ring.
- Reid enjoyed the luxury of Donovan McNabb in much of his time with the Eagles and still failed to bring home a Lombardi trophy. Ultimately, its what got Reid fired in Philly.
- Not only has Reid been bad in the playoffs, but his teams have been the victims of historic collapses. Only four teams have ever led by 18 or more points at halftime of a postseason game and lost in the NFL. Two of those teams are Reid’s Chiefs.
Heartbreak city: Reid’s luck has gotten worse since arriving in K.C.
- Reid was renowned for playoff blunders when he got to Kansas City, bringing with him a 1-4 record in NFC Championship games. Kansas City was used to ugly playoff losses before he ever arrived. It’s gotten worse for both parties.
- With Reid at the helm in 2014, the Chiefs blew a 38-10 third-quarter lead over the Indianapolis Colts.
- In 2018, with Alex Smith under center, the Chiefs blew a 21-4 third-quarter lead to the Tennessee Titans, who fired their head coach anyway a week later. For the Chiefs, this came a season after losing to Pittsburgh in the playoffs despite allowing zero touchdowns.
Coaching tree: Reid’s own assistants have found success where he hasn’t.
- You’d probably have a hard time finding someone who thinks Reid is a bad coach, but the success of his ridiculous coaching tree is somewhat disconcerting for a guy who hasn’t won the big game himself.
- John Harbaugh left Reid’s Eagles staff in 2008 and won a Super Bowl five years later, the same season Reid was fired from Philly.
- Perhaps the biggest slap in the face to Reid’s playoff blunders is the success of Doug Pederson, who served as Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City before taking over for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia. He won the Super Bowl in his second year. He replaced the guy who replaced Reid and won where Reid couldn’t.
The Mahomes factor: The reigning MVP could be Reid’s saving grace.
- Reid may very well be, left to his own devices, incapable of winning a Super Bowl. He couldn’t even get to the AFC title game with Alex Smith, a renowned game manager.
- With Mahomes, the narrative could be different. Only so much of the game is Reid’s hands, and a lot if will likely come down to the right arm of his star QB.
- If there’s anyone that can make up for Reid’s clock management blunders and questionable play calls — particularly late in close games — it’s Mahomes.
The verdict: Reid is the biggest obstacle standing in the way of the Chiefs winning a Super Bowl.
- Brady is 41 and his retirement, however, prolonged it may be, is inevitable. Belichick may not be far behind him.
- With the impending collapse of the Pats and the Steelers, the AFC is as wide open as it’s been in decades. It could very well be Kansas City’s conference for the taking unless Reid messes it up.
- Despite Reid’s thwarts, though, the hope here is that the coach will at least get out of his quarterback’s way long enough for Mahomes and Co. to bring a Lombardi Trophy to Kansas City.
The Bottom Line: Reid better hope he can rewrite his own narrative in the next few playoffs, or at least let Mahomes do it for him. His legacy depends on it.