The Kansas City Chiefs are positioned very well as a franchise for a run of sustained success, but true dynasties in the NFL are so difficult to achieve.
When the confetti has settled and the Gatorade bath has been poured, the questions will inevitably be asked. The Kansas City Chiefs are still knee-deep in sentiments and well-wishes, in empty champagne bottles and Andy Reid love letters.
At some point, however, the future will be the focus and the Chiefs will be analyzed for one specific ability: can they win consecutive Super Bowls?
In today’s NFL, the time for reflection is minimized while the future is romanticized. The Chiefs will be given a brief amount of time (say, a week at most) to have their parade, to share their stories, to launch more confetti and to bring the Lombardi home. The Chiefs might even earn more reflection time than most given the 50-year stretch between Super Bowl appearances. But sometime soon, likely by week’s end, the future will once again dominate the present.
This happens in any major sport, of course, as champions are analyzed for their ability to repeat. The Chiefs will face the same questions. How great will the team’s offseason losses be? How much more difficult will it be next season? Will the same drive be there as before without the five-decade drought to drive them?
For Kansas City, the parameters for another championship run look really strong. As long as Andy Reid is interesting in sticking around, the Chiefs have a Hall of Fame head coach at the helm. They have a 24-year-old quarterback on his rookie contract with an MVP and Super Bowl MVP trophy already on his shelves. They have a completely reworked defense who won a championship in their first full season together utilizing these concepts and working with these teammates.
In short, Kansas City has a lot of dynamic young parts who should only get better with experience. Plus imagine if the Chiefs had not lost Juan Thornhill, Alex Okafor and/or Emmanuel Ogbah for the stretch run. They would have been even better, or at least that’s how it goes on paper.
But is it really that easy? Chiefs fans should know firsthand that how things look on paper rarely equals the lived-out experience of an NFL season. Injuries happen. Officials make a wrong call. Penalties and drops, turnovers and wrong reads, poor timing and miscommunications. They happen each and every week in the National Football League.
It’s why there hasn’t been a single NFL team to win consecutive Super Bowls in 15 years.
The New England Patriots are the benchmark here, a team gifted with a rare find at quarterback and a brilliant head coach who somehow withstood one offseason of attrition after another and still came up strong. The Chiefs are wired in much the same way, with key pieces in the right places to sustain long-term success—or at least that’s the hope. But that happens so rarely these days and to assume a team could just “be the next Patriots” is actually pretty lazy. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to do.
Consider this: the L.A. Rams looked the part of the ascending young team just last year as the NFC champs who ultimately lost to the Pats. They didn’t even make the playoffs this season. The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017 but managed to win only nine games in each of the following two seasons.
Looking back a bit further, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll looked the part as dynamic young franchise quarterback and bright head coach as they led the Seattle Seahawks to the title in 2013. They even returned in 2014 only to lose to the Patriots. They’ve not made it out of the Divisional Round since ’14.
Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy were the impressive package deal back in 2010. They followed up that campaign with a one-and-done in the playoffs in a Divisional Round loss to the New York Giants. Rodgers, despite being a future Hall of Famer, hasn’t made it back to the Super Bowl in the last nine seasons.
Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy? A single title. Drew Brees and Sean Payton? The same. Cam Newton and Ron Rivera made it to the Super Bowl but couldn’t win. Defensive-minded teams like the Baltimore Ravens, led by John Harbaugh, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by Jon Gruden, couldn’t make any more than a single trip to the championship.
Over the last two decades, there have been plenty of excellent head coaches who were given talented young quarterbacks to work with who ended up with only a single title (or even title appearance) to show for all of their efforts. That is not a blemish on any of the players or coaches mentioned here. Instead, it’s the reality that winning in the NFL is very, very difficult week to week, let alone year to year.
Perhaps Patrick Mahomes will be more fortunate than most. Maybe Andy Reid is just getting the dynasty started. It’s possible the Chiefs are ready to assume a Patriots-esque run over the rest of their rivals. If so, the Chiefs will enjoy every second of it while the rest of the league looks on with envy.
But let’s also hope the Chiefs and their fans are soaking up every ounce of joy in this year’s Super Bowl triumph. Buy the merch. Attend the parade. High-five those closest to you. Rewatch the replays on NFL Network. Because as good as this team might look on paper for next season or the next 10, the brutal reality of the NFL makes a dynasty a steep uphill climb for any and all teams—loaded or not.