It’s a question being discussed regularly in NFL circles — most recently on Fox Sports’ “First Things First,” where Nick Wright and Kevin Wildes offered opposing viewpoints from the extremes of their own fandom.
Are the Chiefs going to be the next post-Patriots dynasty?— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 14, 2020
"If there's going to be one it will certainly be the Chiefs. However, dynasties in the NFL are incredibly hard to come by. ... They're set up well but it's incredibly difficult to do what the Pats did." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/j4TmOKsH1i
WRIGHT: “If there is going to be one, it will certainly be the Chiefs. They are not only the number one draft pick there, [they are] the only draft pick one would consider for the award.”
But Wright was also quick to point out that it isn’t going to be easy for the Chiefs — just as it hasn’t been easy for any NFL team..
WRIGHT: “If we were on the air six years ago, I would have bet my entire net worth that the Seattle Seahawks were about to be the next dynasty. They had a superstar quarterback. They had this amazing core. I thought they were going to win at least two — if not three — Super Bowls.”
Wright was referring to the 2014 Seattle team, which came within one play of repeating as Super Bowl champions when the New England Patriots’ Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette in the end zone with just 26 seconds remaining. But in Wright’s view, it isn’t just that.
WRIGHT: “Additionally, the NFL has made it harder — removing one of those byes. The last three dynasties we’ve had — the Patriots of the 10s, Patriots of the aughts and Cowboys of the 90s — in all nine of their Super Bowls, they had a bye. And now, getting a bye is even harder.”
Still, Wright believes no team has a better chance than the Chiefs.
WRIGHT: “You have the best player — and the most valuable player — in the entire league. You have a future Hall of Fame coach. You have an extraordinary GM in Brett Veach. You have your entire core locked up for the next two seasons — aside from Mahomes, and that will happen in short order — so the Chiefs are set up well. And if we were to set the over/under on career Super Bowls for Patrick Mahomes at 2 1/2, I don’t think there is a person in the world who is taking the under.”
After a parting shot about the Patriots needing “the assistance of a couple of cheating scandals” to build their dynasty, it was Wilde’s turn.
"I've been a Pats fan my entire life. It's hard to just put one stamp on the dynasty & say, 'This is who they are.' You know who the Chiefs are. ... To be a dynasty you have to be a chameleon like Belichick & not like a Will Ferrell character, like the Chiefs are." — @kevinwildes pic.twitter.com/kxLjXjrhD6— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 14, 2020
WILDE: “Here’s what I think is interesting. I’ve been a Patriots fan my entire life. But in the course of this dynasty, if you asked me to describe the dynasty, that’s why people say it’s ‘Belichickian.’ Or it’s Brady. Because it’s hard to put just one stamp on the dynasty and say, ‘This is who they are.’”
Wilde framed his argument in Hollywood terms.
WILDE: “Now the Chiefs.... I think you know who the Chiefs are. They’re like Will Ferrell: beloved — and great. But you know who you’re going to get. The Patriots are more like Daniel Day-Lewis: who knows who you’re going to get. Maybe he shows up at 300 pounds. Maybe he’ll be emaciated. Maybe he’s going to be old. Maybe he’s going to be computer-generated young.”
Wilde then showed some statistical comparisons demonstrating something we have known to be true for a while: that during the entirety of the Patriots dynasty, the team has sometimes been stronger on defense than on offense — and vice-versa.
WILDE: “The moral of the story is: to be a Patriots dynasty — or to be a dynasty — you have to be more of a chameleon-like Belichick. Not kind of like a Will Ferrell character — like Nick’s Chiefs are.”
So which one is right? Probably both of them.
Wright is correct: at this moment, no NFL team is better-positioned to succeed than the Chiefs. But just like the Seahawks in 2006, just being good enough to repeat isn’t enough. You actually have to get it done. And now with one fewer playoff bye available, it makes it all the more important to secure it.
And Wilde is also correct: the Patriots have managed to be successful in multiple ways over a long period of time — while the Chiefs as champions are pretty much a known quantity.
But what Wilde didn’t mention is the partnership of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady during the Patriots’ reign. During the last two decades, it’s been impossible to know whether their success was based more on one than the other — or whether the combination itself was such a perfect marriage that it transcended everything else.
But there’s a strong argument that such a partnership now exists in a Midwestern city — that the union of Reid and Mahomes could be capable of a string of success much like the Patriots have had.
Consider this: suppose Mahomes had been available in 2013 instead of 2017. Can anyone dispute that if Mahomes had taken over from Alex Smith in 2014, the Chiefs could have won a championship or two during those five seasons — and in doing so, would have won at different times while displaying strength on different sides of the ball?
In the coming season, we’re going to start learning some things. One of them is whether Brady, Belichick — or their partnership — has been the primary cause of New England’s success. And the other is whether the Chiefs have a chance of matching it.