It’s not a popular catharsis. The Kansas City Chiefs, winners of 25 out of their last 27 true football games and defending Super Bowl champions looked anything but immortal for one very important evening.
While Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was busy putting a steel-plated stamp on his G.O.A.T. status, the hapless Chiefs were bogged down by constant defensive pressure with an offensive line that was clearly not up for this challenge.
So what does it all mean? Do we automatically pencil the Chiefs in for Super Bowl LVI in L.A. until we see visual evidence that a team in the AFC can provide a formidable challenge? Or did we witness the first of many chinks in the Kansas City armor that could ultimately lead to the conclusion of this mini run?
What we saw in the Super Bowl was something we simply haven’t witnessed since Patrick Mahomes began dazzling the universe back in 2018. Was Super Bowl LV an anomaly? It’s an adequate argument. Sunday was the franchise’s most lopsided lost since a week 4 debacle at Pittsburgh…Back in 2016.
The Chiefs meteorically became the greatest show in pro sports as Mahomes won MVP back in 2018 then Super Bowl MVP in 2020 while the wins, records and magical moments piled up. Sunday saw no magical moments. Not one in fact. So are the Chiefs in real danger of hitting a wall in the near future?
Chiefs Major Areas of Concern
People believe the Chiefs have sufficient offensive weaponry. They do not. Of course you have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. If you recall last year in the Super Bowl Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced the “Legion of Zoom” which consists of Hill, Watkins and Hardman.
This unit does not exist. Sammy Watkins is unreliable and likely gone and Mecole Hardman is getting worse and a complete detriment in the return game. At this point, you’re getting next to nothing from Robinson or Pringle either. Travis Kelce is a beast but is going on 32. He shows no signs of slowing down but there is not remotely a second tight end near this roster than can contribute. It’s a major problem.
The LINE!! Yes, we all know competent offensive line play is important. What the Chiefs could not endure in the Super Bowl was the worst offensive line play we’ve ever seen an, sadly, that is what occurred. The team should get COVID fighter Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang back next year but tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher are giant question marks. They’re going to have to address this heavily in the draft and free agency.
The AFC is loading up. We’ve seen teams desperately scramble the past few off-seasons in an attempt to try to match the Chiefs’ high-octane fire power. And you know what, teams are catching up.
There are young quarterbacks all over the AFC (Jackson, Burrow, Herbert, Watson?) and Trevor Lawrence is on the way. If the Chiefs are unable to bolster its offensive weaponry, they are in danger of hitting an offensive wall should injuries to Kelce or Hill occur. Teams will be able to catch up in a hurry and if Mahomes is going to keep on his path towards being the second greatest of all time, the team has to keep him surrounded by talent.
We have an expensive pass rush problem in KC. We all know about Frank Clark and Chris Jones’ bloated contracts and, frankly, they aren’t getting the job done. The duo combined for a mediocre 13.5 sacks in 2020. Meanwhile, former Chief and on-the-cheap DE Emmanuel Ogbah registered 9 for the Dolphins this year. The back end of the defense is solidified for the time being but we saw how important the Bucs ferocious rush was on Sunday. Clark and Jones have to be better or their contracts could make the team pay dearly in the future if their production continues to lag.
Reasons for Hope
Patrick Mahomes is here and that is infinitely important. He is the single most important player in the NFL and that matters…a lot. The Chiefs should remain competitive at worst as long as this man is under center for this franchise.
This team is resilient. People forget this team was 6-4 in 2019 before going on a tear and winning Super Bowl LIV. They cruised to a 14-1 record this year without putting forth much effort. Now, they are bruised and humiliated. How will they respond? Somethings tells me 2021’s redemption tour might be a hell of a thing to watch unfold. There is a culture here that includes invaluable leadership at the top.
Brett Veach has proven himself time and again. Not only has he been nothing short of a wizard constructing contracts for the major stars on this team, he’s been outstanding at finding hidden gems in the draft and free agency. Corners Rashad Fenton and L’ Jarius Sneed and defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton have all become fixtures. Second round picks not withstanding, you have to have faith that Veach can keep things rolling.
The truth is, the NFL did a fantastic job making the 2020 season a reality. The league’s ultimate showcase of success took place Sunday night in Tampa. There was a general sense of triumph inside Raymond James Stadium as the spectacle provided a reminder that life will go on despite COVID.
While Bucs fans are celebrating a truly remarkable run to a title, the Chiefs must now find a way to regain the hunger they had in 2019 if this current version wants to be remembered for more than a fun blip on the NFL radar