Some things are just apparent from the beginning.
It was December 4, 2018. It was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ first year as a starter — and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale already saw greatness in him.
Martindale compares Kansas City’s Mahomes to young Joe Montana https://t.co/oWU1lVJtLh pic.twitter.com/wjmgZCKIPy— WNST Baltimore Positive (@WNST) December 6, 2018
“I think Mahomes is [Joe] Montana — I’m talking about the San Francisco Montana and not the Kansas City Montana,” Martindale said at the time. ”I think how everything is cyclical and history repeats itself. I think you’re seeing that combination between Andy Reid and Mahomes of Montana and Bill Walsh. I really do.”
Ravens' Don "Wink" Martindale talks about Patrick Mahomes | VIDEO https://t.co/UxAo5dzQpQ— Ravens Insider (@RavensInsider) September 17, 2021
This week, Martindale echoed his previous comments.
“He’s one of those guys and I’ve compared him before — you know, he and Andy Reid to Montana and Walsh, you know the combination — that type of relationship they had.”
That’s high praise.
But why wouldn’t Martindale think so? Since being named the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2018, he and Baltimore are 0-3 against Kansas City. They are 25-10 against everyone else.
Beyond that, there are similarities between the two duos.
Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh is widely regarded as the father of the West Coast Offense — an offensive philosophy that places a greater emphasis on passing than on running. The West Coast Offense is characterized by its utilization of short passing routes to replace running plays. Its main goal is to stretch out the defense and open up longer passes down the field.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the skeleton from which the Chiefs offense is built.
Walsh taught his scheme to his quarterbacks' coach Mike Holmgren. In turn, Holmgren passed it along to Andy Reid while he was Holmgren’s tight ends and assistant offensive line coach with the Green Bay Packers in 1992.
On this #WednesdayWisdom, we remember the mastermind behind the West Coast Offense, Bill Walsh.@49ers pic.twitter.com/z9G32YeVNS— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) December 5, 2018
With quarterback Joe Montana running his offense, Walsh won three Super Bowl titles over 10 years. Many consider them to be one of the best quarterback/head coach combinations in NFL history — and both are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But any time you start comparing players and coaches to legends of the game, you’re going to encourage discourse on the subject. And that’s exactly what Martindale did.
“The best way to put it with Patrick Mahomes is, whoever your favorite quarterback is, and whoever is sitting there having a conversation with you, saying this is my all-time favorite quarterback and this is why— he is always in that conversation. I think he is one of the best there is.”
“When you’re going against a quarterback at his level, which I think is elite. I’ve stated that before. You have to defend his first play. His second play. And sometimes his third play, all in that one play,” commented Wink in regards to Mahomes ability to extend the play and make something out of nothing, “and I think that’s what makes him so special.”
Is Martindale correct? Are Mahomes and Reid as good as Montana and Walsh?
No... not yet. They have a ways to go to equal what Walsh and Montana accomplished over a decade in San Francisco.
But so far, they are better. Through their first four seasons together, Montana and Walsh compiled a record of 18-15 in games Montana started. Meanwhile, Mahomes and Reid have posted an eye-popping record of 38-8 over four seasons. That’s 20 more regular-season wins — and seven fewer losses — over the same period of time.
Both duos won a Super Bowl in their third year together.
If you want to split hairs, you could argue that those first four years were also Walsh’s first as a head coach — and that by the time Reid arrived in Kansas City, he was already a seasoned head coach.
But seasoned or not, a 20-victory margin is quite a lot to overlook.
At the end of the day, though, whether Mahomes and Reid are better than Montana and Walsh (or Brady and Belichick — or any other combo) is not the point. What matters is that they are in the conversation.
Anything beyond that is like arguing who was more dominant: Jordan, Kobe, or LeBron?
The answer is that they were all legends in their own right.
The bottom line
Together, Mahomes and Reid are a cheat code. You cannot put a dollar amount on the kind of success they have had together.
“They could’ve paid him a billion,” said Martindale said last summer after Mahomes signed his record-breaking $500 million dollar contract. “I’d still think he’s underpaid.”
This is the golden age of Chiefs football. What Mahomes and Reid have accomplished to this point is something to be appreciated and savored. But what they might yet accomplish could put them in truly historic company.
Enjoy it, Kansas City.