Chiefs face unforgiving history in title defense


(David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes against San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen Arik Armstead during the second half of the 2020 Super Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, Feb. 2.

By Jack Clay, Staff Writer

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes headed to the locker room at halftime, likely disappointed in the pedestrian numbers that he and his nitrous-infused offense had posted in the first half of the 2020 Super Bowl. But in the fourth quarter, he channelled the energy Jennifer Lopez and Shakira had left behind from their electric halftime show.

Mahomes delivered 21 unanswered points in the game’s final period and the Kansas City Chiefs earned their first Super Bowl win in 50 years.

After the Rams and Patriots combined for 16 total points in last year’s snoozer of a Super Bowl, fans were desperate for the 2020 matchup between the NFL’s best offense and defense to live up to its hype.

And it did. A 10-point second-half comeback set to the backdrop of Kansas City fans’ deafening noise made up for last year’s NFL finale flop.

Mahomes played far from his best game, but showed up when it counted. He walked away with the Super Bowl MVP award, the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl and regular season MVP before turning 25.

And as an Eagles fan, I was rooting for former Philadelphia and current Kansas City head coach Andy Reid to get his first ring and a well-deserved cheeseburger. But my Eagles are a cautionary tale for how quickly Super Bowl champions can fall from grace.

The Chiefs are on cloud nine and they have every right to be. Only one thing can rain on their parade right now — expectations.

They’ve just defeated the 49ers on the sport’s biggest stage. Not only did they win, but did so by scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter of play. When they return home to Arrowhead Stadium, they’ll have the elusive Lombardi trophy in hand, a prize their franchise hasn’t lifted in 50 years.

They boast the league’s best young talent in Mahomes and an all-time great coach in Andy Reid. Their offense is fueled by some of the best skill position players in the league today, and their defense remains one of the most underrated units in the NFL.

The Chiefs have the power to be a defining force in the NFL for the next decade if they play their cards right. They have everything a dynasty-in-the-making needs — a young quarterback surrounded by playmakers, a great coach, formidable defense, a loyal fanbase and a chip on their shoulder. It seems like the time is now for Kansas City. But let’s not rush to conclusions.

The 2018 Philadelphia Eagles had a similarly promising story. They’d just defeated the daunting dynasty-creating duo from New England of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and brought home their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Carson Wentz was a budding star, paired with a gutsy head coach in Doug Pederson, fast offense and suffocating defense. The city nearly burned down in a delirious haze of pure joy after they won. The Eagles were flying high and nothing could bring them down.

Then reality struck. Today, Philadelphia’s future is shrouded in mystery. They barely made the playoffs in the worst division in football and were booted in the first round. Wentz’s ability to stay on the field is questionable, and fans are calling for general manager Howie Roseman’s job after a few questionable decisions.

Roseman’s mistakes include giving underperforming and injury-prone players like DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor new contracts, trading away productive players like Michael Bennett for virtually nothing and letting the player that won them the Super Bowl, Nick Foles, walk away to a new team. If this year’s draft goes poorly, the Eagles could be looking at a rebuilding period just a couple years removed from winning the Super Bowl.

That’s not to say that all that will happen to the Chiefs, but Kansas City faces sky-high expectations for the first time in a long time. Maintaining success in this age of salary caps and player movement is already hard enough.

And if the team loses steam or Mahomes struggles, it won’t be long before fans become impatient and the entire foundation of this year’s championship team could fade as easily as it appeared. The Eagles clearly couldn’t handle the pressure of expectations. Can Mahomes and the Chiefs? Only time will tell.