Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are transforming the Kansas City Chiefs franchise. In fact, they already have.
Before Patrick Mahomes became Kansas City's starting quarterback, the Chiefs had been to three AFC Championship Games, had appeared in two Super Bowls, and had one Lombardi Trophy.
Under Mahomes, the Chiefs have been to three AFC Championship Games, have been to two Super Bowls, and have one Lombardi Trophy, with another on the line on Feb. 7.
In three years, the Patrick Mahomes-led Chiefs have matched or exceeded the accomplishments of the Chiefs’ previous 58 years in existence, and this fact manifests itself in many ways.
After Super Bowl IV, all the way back in 1969, the Chiefs' record in the playoffs in the 48-year span was 4-16. Since Mahomes has taken the reins of the team, the Chiefs have gone 6-1 in the playoffs, pending Super Bowl LV.
The Chiefs only recorded 12 wins in a season five times over its history pre-Mahomes. With Mahomes at Quarterback, the Chiefs have recorded at least 12 wins in each of his first three years as the starter.
Only Chiefs fans over the age of 60 could have seen what a truly successful Chiefs team looks like without Patrick Mahomes.
It is a new era of Chiefs football.
Now, this doesn’t mean that other eras of Chiefs football were useless.
The Len Dawson and Hank Stram years were, of course, wildly successful, but they are a distant memory now. Under Marty Schottenheimer, the Chiefs went to the playoffs six straight times in the early 1990s. The Dick Vermeil-led Chiefs had a few good years, including a great 2003 season with an explosive offense helmed by Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzalez, and a star-studded offensive line. Even the Alex Smith years pre-Mahomes should be considered successful, which encompassed five straight winning seasons and four playoff berths.
All these periods were missing something, though. Playoff success.
Mahomes has broken through that once-seemingly-unsurmountable barrier for the Chiefs. Even at the end of his third year as the Chiefs starting quarterback, it’s still hard to comprehend exactly how much Mahomes has changed the Chiefs and where he will take the franchise going forward.
Across Chiefs social media pages, even recently, I've seen many Chiefs fans still dumbfounded that Mahomes is Kansas City's quarterback. Even three years into the Mahomes era, it's a feeling I understand.
I am a somewhat-young Chiefs fan and really started to take an interest in football and the Chiefs in 20002, at age seven. The high-flying offense of Green, Holmes, and Gonzalez drew me in like no other sport had. Experiencing the 2003 Chiefs season was a treat, as the Chiefs blitzed through the league to a 9-0 start. When that Chiefs team lost to the Colts in the no-punt playoff game, I shed a few tears.
That sadness had been a disappointing trend for the Chiefs in the playoffs.
The field goal game against the Steelers. The forward progress game against the Titans. The collapse against the Colts. The aforementioned no-punt game against the Colts. The Lin Elliott game. There are many more moments like these, and the heartbreaks didn’t seem like they’d stop coming as the Chiefs tried to go further in the playoffs. It seemed certain that Kansas City was cursed.
That feeling, the sense of dread, is probably why Mahomes seems to be an otherworldly phenomenon. As the first quarterback drafted by the Chiefs in the first round in over 30 years, he seems like he was hand-delivered by the football gods as a reward for all the heartbreak.
At the young age of 25, Patrick Mahomes is going to define a decade or more of Chiefs football. After all the anguish, pain, and disappointment of the previous decades, Mahomes is creating a new era of Chiefs football with more jubilance. With the help of other all-time players like Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the joyous feelings will probably outweigh the negative feelings for a significant time still to come.
Stop for a second and realize that the Chiefs have never been this successful over their entire existence. Going to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years is an accomplishment very few NFL teams can hang from their rafters. A run like this should be appreciated, enjoyed, and savored.
We are living in the golden era of Chiefs football. Don’t forget to stop and smell the red roses.