Google took less than a second (.39 to be exact) to return more than 170,000 results on the nine-word search, “Mahomes and Reid as the next Brady and Belichick,” providing plenty of evidence the football world already has anointed the Kansas City duo as successors to the long-standing partnership in New England.
But before Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his supernatural quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, put their prowess to the test against a solo Bill Belichick Sunday in Kansas City, let’s hit the pause button on the notion they will someday match what Belichick accomplished in two decades with Tom Brady. Reid and Mahomes won their first Super Bowl last season, but as much as that put them in elite championship company, they are still five Super Bowl wins and eight Super Bowl appearances away from Brady and Belichick.
There’s no debating who’s in the driver’s seat now. The Chiefs are still flying high and Mahomes has yet to have a bad game in what is a ridiculously great start to his young career. And it’s all sorts of fun to imagine what he might still accomplish behind the offensive wizardry in Reid’s football brain. But to leap directly to the idea they will get on a run like the one Brady and Belichick enjoyed with the Patriots is an insult to what went on in New England for the better part of 20 years.
Of course, they are helped by the fact that the biggest hurdle is gone. Belichick arrives in Kansas City Sunday not with Brady by his side, but with Cam Newton. And Brady, finally having enough of Belichick’s demanding, draining ways, signed as a free agent in Tampa Bay. The couple that bounced Mahomes and Reid in overtime of the 2018 AFC Championship game has broken up, and while they each wasted little time finding a new partner, the playing field for the rest of the league opened wide.
And it’s Reid and Mahomes who are best positioned to step in and fill the void in a way previous partnerships could not, blocked as they always were by the resident class couple.
There were many who tried.
Drew Brees and Sean Payton — one Super Bowl win, still hanging on by the thread of Brees’s arm for another try.
Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll — one Super Bowl win, still recovering from the last-second dagger Brady and Belichick landed to win Super Bowl XLIX.
Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy — one Super Bowl win, have since broken up, now looking for No. 2 each with a new partner.
A few other one-time winners during the time of Brady are still in action, but Nick Foles isn’t even with the Eagles anymore and Joe Flacco, long removed from his Baltimore heyday, is just hanging around as a backup with the Jets. And two of the three two-time winners are retired, with Eli Manning joining his brother Peyton Manning on the couch after one last disastrous Giants season. That leaves Ben Roethlisberger, who won his second Super Bowl in the 2008 season under coach Mike Tomlin, having won his first three years earlier with Bill Cowher.
The preseason pick here to win the Super Bowl was in fact Big Ben and Tomlin, but for them to deliver on that prediction, they’re likely going to have to get past the high-flying duo in Kansas City. But even if they do, Roethlisberger, at 38, isn’t going to be around long enough to challenge Brady’s record six Super Bowl wins. Mahomes, meanwhile, has time on his side. Even if he fails to go back-to-back in the same way Brady fell short following his first win in the 2001 season, Mahomes has a 10-year deal and a half-billion dollars to take his shot. Brady, who earned Nos. 2 and 3 by going back-to-back in 2003-04, also turned in a remarkable second championship act by winning three more titles from 2014-18.
Reid remembers that first dynastic run all too well, on the wrong side of Brady and Belichick’s third win together as the coach of the defeated Eagles. Overall, he was 2-7 against Belichick and Brady, though he’s done plenty of damage to Belichick’s vaunted defenses, scoring 40 or more points three times. The up-close experience has been more than enough to put him in the pump-the-brakes camp of replicating a Patriot-like winning experience in KC.
“They did it forever and did it so well, better than anybody,” Reid said Wednesday. “We’re young pups in that area. We’re just trying to get ready to play the Patriots, that’s what we’re trying to do. I haven’t thought too much about [that comparison]. I wouldn’t at all taint that accomplishment that Bill and Tom had. That was phenomenal.”
Yes, Reid and Mahomes are off to their own great start. But Brady and Belichick Part 2? Way too early for that. Google can give us plenty of links, but it also can give us an entirely separate Wikipedia entry on the Brady-Belichick era. An era. As the dictionary defines it, that’s “a long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.”
That feature in New England? Winning. Winning over a long period, with the same coach and quarterback. That’s not easy to replicate, no matter how fun it is to imagine.