I was blessed to raise three boys who are all now grown men and still live in the greater Kansas City area.
While he was growing up, my middle son Jordy and I often discussed whether the success of the New England Patriots was due more to their head coach Bill Belichick or their quarterback Tom Brady. No matter how many times we had that discussion, we always agreed: we would not find out until Brady either retired or left the Patriots for another team.
So I am not sure I agree with those who say Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. Let’s consider what we know.
Before he arrived in New England, Belichick’s record as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns was 36-44 — with just one postseason appearance. In the 23 years he’s been the head coach in New England, he’s gone 41-41 when Brady hasn’t been the starter.
What about his coaching tree? The former Belichick assistants who have become head coaches have not fared well — with the latest example being Josh McDaniels with the Las Vegas Raiders.
So it seems clear to me that the thing that made the Patriots’ engine hum was Brady — not Belichick. I am not saying that he isn’t a good coach. But the best in league history? I don’t think so.
Mahomes is the best quarterback most of us have ever seen. Now with a Super Bowl win to his credit, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid is regarded as an offensive guru who routinely dials up plays that other teams have never seen before.
But what if the Chiefs hadn’t moved up from the 27th pick in 2017? What if they made the trade, but decided instead on Deshaun Watson? (That’s what my son Jordy thought was going to happen when the Chiefs made the deal). What if the team had waited a year to take Baker Mayfield? Would the Chiefs have won a championship by now? And what if Mahomes had ended up in a quarterbacks graveyard — like with the Cleveland Browns? Would he still be what he is today?
Over the years, Reid has proven that he can take a less-than-elite quarterback and get the absolute best out of him — like he did with Donovan McNabb while he was head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He also developed quarterbacks like A.J. Feely, who seemed to light the world on fire when he subbed for the injured McNabb. Reid could then take advantage, trading these young quarterbacks for draft picks from quarterback-needy teams.
But until he had Mahomes, Reid could not get over that final hill to reach the pinnacle of NFL success.
Playing for another team, Mahomes might have gone on to do superhuman things on the football field — but would he be winning as many games under a bad head coach or offensive coordinator? And although Reid never won a championship before Mahomes, he had certainly proved he could win — and even made it to multiple championship games — with a less-than-elite quarterback.
It seems clear to me that Mahomes and Reid have needed each other — just as Brady and Belichick did — to reach their full potential. It’s been just like putting the final pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in place to complete the picture. We have been blessed to watch them — and will continue to be blessed for the foreseeable future.
And thank God we never had the chance to see all those other questions answered.