Skip to content

Paul Zeise: Chiefs’ coaching staff deserves most of the credit for Super Bowl win

Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL. I don’t think at this point it is even arguable any more. The guy is special and he seems to get better every time we watch him play.

And he is now to the point in his career where he has accomplished so much that the discussion is no longer about where he fits among active quarterbacks, but rather where he fits all time. He has been that good.

He led the Chiefs to another Super Bowl win and he was his excellent self, making big plays, clutch throws, great decisions, etc., as they beat the Eagles 38-35.

Mahomes obviously is the guy who drives the bus for the Chiefs, but on Sunday, he wasn’t the most valuable player of the Super Bowl.

I know he won the award and that was inevitable, but in this case he wasn’t the most valuable person (or persons) for the Chiefs. He would not have been able to do what he did had it not been for the Chiefs coaching staff on both sides of the ball and the Chiefs offensive line.

Let’s start with the offensive line, which was the reason the Chiefs lost to Tampa the last time they were in the Super Bowl. They were facing the vaunted Eagles pass rush, they had a hobbled quarterback to protect, and there were legitimate concerns about their ability to give the Chiefs offense a chance to operate.

And all they did was completely handle the Eagles’ defensive front. They kept the Eagles from sacking Mahomes, but more importantly they enabled the Chiefs to rush for 158 yards at a clip of 6.1 yards per carry.

Mahomes was spectacular, but his job was made a lot easier by the big men in front of him. They made it so he had time to throw the ball, and the run game made it so that the Eagles couldn’t just “pin their ears back” and mercilessly rush him.

Mahomes also had a lot of help from Andy Reid and company, as they coached circles around the Eagles’ defensive staff. They had a game plan of a safe, controlled passing game to keep Mahomes from having to hold the ball too long, running the football out of a variety of formations, and scheming against the defense to create easy opportunities for touchdowns.

The touchdowns Mahomes threw to Kadarius Toney to tie the game and then Skyy Moore to take a 35-27 lead were 100% scheme. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy saw something on film about the Eagles defense and how they defended jet sweeps and similar plays and added a wrinkle.

Backup quarterback Chad Henne said Bieniemy noticed that the Eagles defense would overcompensate when a team would use any kind of jet sweep motion. So he used a play from a Jacksonville game against the Eagles in film study Saturday night and theorized if they faked the jet sweep, the receiver on the back side would be wide open.

They not only caught the Eagles once with that action, they got them twice, and at the most important times of the game. Yes, Mahomes is great, but the Chiefs’ coaching staff made it almost too easy for him to exploit cracks in the Eagles’ defense — including creating and exploiting matchups for seldom-used JuJu Smith-Schuster late in the game.

Defensively, the Chiefs’ Steve Spagnuolo was willing to roll the dice that they could slow the Eagles’ vaunted running game and make the Eagles beat them through the air. It was significant because the Chiefs were able to get just enough stops to allow Mahomes and company to come from behind and win.

The Eagles only ran for 115 yards and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, and that was a big reason they weren’t able to protect their lead. The Eagles’ formula had been to get a lead then lean on the other team by running the ball at will in the second half.

But with the running game jammed up, the Eagles didn’t have their security blanket to lean on and they managed to score only 11 points after the half. That’s obviously great work by the Chiefs defense, but the defensive staff managed to adjust enough to what the Eagles — who went up and down the field with ease in the first half — was doing.

Football is the ultimate team sport, and that’s probably why we emphasize way too much a quarterback’s record of “winning rings” when we compare them for purposes of who is the greatest.

Winning Super Bowls does matter, but the reality is that quite often a quarterback gets way too much credit or way too much blame in playoff games.

A strong argument could be made that Jalen Hurts actually played better than Mahomes, though Hurts did have a fumble that changed the dynamics of the game dramatically. Still, Hurts had one of his best games as a pro, brought the Eagles back to tie the game when they fell behind by eight points late and accounted for 370 yards and four touchdowns.

But Mahomes won the game because his coaching staff was more prepared and because the Chiefs won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the line of scrimmage. It was a brilliant game plan by Bieniemy, Reid and Spagnuolo and executed really well by the players.

Mahomes was the MVP because someone has to win the award, but if you paid attention, you realize his brilliance was made possible by a lot of other people in that locker room.

Leave a Comment