Chief's organization keeps producing championship teams
February 16, 2023
Former Chicago Bull General Manager Jerry Krause once said that "Players and coaches don't win championships; organizations win championships." The Bulls won six NBA Championships in eight years. Krause was widely criticized for that statement, including by the super-star of the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan. But there is some truth to the statement and the Kansas City Chiefs are a prime example of what a good organization can achieve.
The Chiefs won their second Super Bowl in four years last Sunday, coming from behind to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII, 38-35. The game was played in Glendale, Arizona. The Chiefs trailed 24-14 at halftime, but used the second half to score touchdowns on three consecutive possessions and used their fourth possession of the second half to convert on the game winning field goal, a Harrison Butker 27-yard field goal.
For the Chiefs, it was their third Super Bowl appearance in the past four seasons. The Chiefs have won seven straight AFC West Division titles. They have appeared in five consecutive conference championship games, all played on their home field. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was the regular season MVP, was also the Super Bowl MVP. Mahomes threw three touchdown passes in the game. .
The Chiefs organization built this roster through drafting and player development. They are led by General Manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid and his talented coaching staff. It was Veach that pushed for drafting Mahomes, a player he had been following since his freshman season in college at Texas Tech.
Veach was responsible for the trading of star wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in 2022, which resulted in a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, two fourth-round picks, and a 2023 sixth-round pick. Veach used one of his extra sixth round picks and a third-round pick to acquire former first round wide receiver Kadarius Toney from the New York Giants. Toney had a touchdown reception and a 65-yard punt return to setup another touchdown in the Super Bowl victory.
Mahomes has been the starting quarterback for the Chiefs for the past five seasons and at a minimum has reached the AFC Championship game in each season. The Chiefs organization decided to move up in the 2017 NFL draft to draft Mahomes with the tenth pick overall in the first round but let him sit and learn behind veteran quarterback Alex Smith his rookie year. Smith led the Chiefs to back-to-back AFC West division titles and made the pro bowl in both seasons, including in the rookie season of Mahomes.
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected ten players in the draft, three in the seventh round of the draft. All three of the 7th round picks played in the Super Bowl, with two of them starting, cornerback Jaylen Watson and running back Isiah Pacheco. Nine of the ten rookies played in the Super Bowl, with rookie tackle Darian Kinnard inactive for the game. Four of the rookies started in the Super Bowl.
Pacheco rushed 15 times for 76 yards and one touchdown. He was asked what it felt like to both make the roster as a 7th round pick and be a Super Champion. “It means the absolute world to me,” Pacheco said. “Especially when you write down in your notes what your goals are and then you come back to them. For me, I’m going to come back to them, grab that pen, and check them off. We did it, but for me I still feel like there’s more to improve.”
The offensive line opened holes for Pacheco and did not allow a sack of Mahomes in the Super Bowl, an amazing feat considering the fact that the Eagles led the NFL in sacks with 70 during the regular season, which was 15 more than the second-place team in sacks, which was the Chiefs with 55. The 2022 NFL draft provided two starters on the Chiefs offensive line, center Creed Humphrey, a second round pick out of Oklahoma and right guard Trey Smith, a sixth round pick out of Tennessee.
Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy explained what it is like to coach the talented Mahomes. “He is a special person, which makes him a special player,” Bieniemy said. “He’s a very humble, hard-working individual. Those are the unique qualities that have helped him to grow throughout this process. Very proud of the kid. He’s someone that everyone should have an opportunity to work with and get to know.” It is obvious that every NFL offensive coordinator would love to have an opportunity to coach Mahomes.
For Toney, getting traded to the Chiefs was a blessing. “The environment is just life changing,” Toney said. “You can just only imagine the coaches and the entire organization, just the energy you feel in the building day in and day out. It’s different. It makes you want to go out there and be the best player you can be. I’m surrounded by the MVP (QB Patrick Mahomes), the top tight end (Travis Kelce) in the league. I’m just trying to fit in and be the best player that I can be.”
Toney also talked about his 65-yard punt return in the fourth quarter: “I was just making a play. It was the right return, I went the way I was supposed to return. He kicked the ball over where we wanted it. He just gave us an ugly punt and I just had to go out there and make a play.”
Organizations may not win championships, but as NFL Hall-of-Fame head coach Vince Lombardi once said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.” This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Chiefs. Instead, they just reloaded and won it all. That is the sign of an excellent organization.