The Chiefs traded their ‘ultimate weapon’… and discovered the secret to epic Super Bowl run

Home » The Chiefs traded their ‘ultimate weapon’… and discovered the secret to epic Super Bowl run
The Chiefs traded their ‘ultimate weapon’… and discovered the secret to epic Super Bowl run

Almost 11 months ago news broke that the Kansas City Chiefs were trading superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a haul of draft picks – a first-rounder, a second-rounder, two fourths and a sixth.

Many NFL pundits and fans felt that Patrick Mahomes, and in turn the Chiefs, may struggle this season without their No. 1 receiver, especially with Hill’s ability to stretch the field as he often drew two defenders.

“Mahomes is going to miss Tyreek. It’s going to be a brave new world for Patrick Mahomes. Will he still be very good? Will he be a world beater next year?,” FS1’s Skip Bayless said during a segment on ‘Undisputed’ in the wake of the trade.

“Well, he’s coming off his worst year where he’s down in every statistical category, even though you still defend him. But are you sure they’re going to be quite as good as they have been? Without the ultimate weapon in Tyreek? I don’t think Mahomes is going to be quite as good.”

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Fellow FS1 sportscaster Colin Cowherd shared Bayless’ sentiment, comparing the Chiefs losing the man they call the Cheetah to that of a baseball team losing its top home-run hitter.

“It’s gonna affect the offence, it will not be as dynamic,” he said on ‘The Herd with Colin Cowherd’.

“This is not a small loss for Kansas City, even with Mahomes and Travis Kelce. Now your (number) two receiver is gonna get the best (opposition) corner… good luck… This is not good for Kansas City… There is no duplication for Tyreek Hill, he changes everything.”

Veteran journalist Chris Broussard went a step further, suggesting during an episode of ‘First Things First’ that “it’s on the table that the Chiefs miss the playoffs next year”.

At the time these concerns seemed to hold some merit. After all Hill had led the team in touchdown receptions for all four seasons since Mahomes had become the starting quarterback, had the highest receiving average in three of the four (2018-20) and was also the team leader in total receiving yards two of those seasons (2018, 2021).

It’s why Patrick Mahomes tried so hard to ensure Hill was still on the team, when his phone rang one day in early March with Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid informing him they were considering trading the star wide receiver.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Why?’ ” Mahomes revealed to the NY Post this week.

Tyreek Hill (L) was a game changer during his time with the Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire)Source: Getty Images

The Chiefs’ decision-makers explained to Mahomes that despite Hill’s 111 catches in 2021 and no other No. 1 wide receiver option on the roster, the Chiefs could not meet his demands for a contract extension and needed to move him.

“Obviously, I tried to do whatever I could to make sure we kept Tyreek,” Mahomes said.

“He is not only a special player but is a good friend of mine. We tried to make it happen the best we could and it obviously didn’t, but we had a plan for what we were going to do after that and what steps we were going to take.”

Amazingly, the Chiefs’ offence did not miss a step without Hill, who had an All-Pro season with the Dolphins. Mahomes threw for 5,250 yards (fourth most in NFL history) and 41 touchdowns while also rushing for 358 yards and even catching a six-yard pass (from himself) to break the all-time record for total yards in a season (5,614).

This record-breaking performance culminated in Mahomes claiming his second regular season MVP award and the Chiefs being back in the Super Bowl for the third time in four years. They also had the No. 1 offence in both average yards and points per game.

Some of the credit for the Chiefs being able to survive the loss of such a significant weapon must no doubt go to GM Brett Veach, who made smart signings in free agency by adding JuJu Smith-Schuster (78 catches for 933 yards and three TDs) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (42 catches for 687 yards and two TDs), and head coach Andy Reid – who showed he remains one of the smartest minds in football with how he integrated them into the offence.

However, the lion’s share of the credit should be reserved for two men.

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Firstly, it helps when you have the greatest current quarterback on the planet on your team.

“Listen, Pat Mahomes is a pretty good quarterback,” coach Reid said.

“We didn’t lose Pat Mahomes and that was a good thing. He makes those guys look good in a lot of ways and they help make him look good, too.”

It also doesn’t hurt when you have the best tight end in the league on your team to help fill the Tyreek Hill-sized hole in the Chiefs’ offensive production.

Travis Kelce had another monster season with 110 catches (third most by a TE in NFL history) for 1,338 yards (fourth all-time by a TE) and 12 touchdowns.

Since Mahomes became the starting quarterback in 2018, he and Kelce have consistently dominated the league, connecting on 496 passes for 6,319 yards and 48 touchdowns in just 78 games together.

Mahomes and Kelce are like a match made in heaven and are a huge reason why Kansas City find themselves with a chance to claim their second Lombardi trophy together in the space of four years.

There is no question they are the best quarterback and tight end duo in football and there’s even an argument to be made that they are the top quarterback and pass catching pair (including WRs) in the entire NFL.

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Their production in the playoffs is fast becoming the stuff of legend – the two have connected on 104 catches for 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns in just 13 playoff games together.

To put that into perspective, the iconic combination of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana only connected 61 times for 969 yards and 12 touchdowns in 11 playoff games, while future Hall-of-Famer Rob Gronkowski had 98 catches for 1,389 yards and scored 15 touchdowns in 22 games with the GOAT Tom Brady in the playoffs during their careers.

Despite having played in nine fewer playoff games together, Mahomes and Kelce are just three touchdown catches away from breaking Brady and Gronk’s post-season touchdown record. It’s entirely plausible they could equal or break the mark as soon as Monday.

Even if they don’t break the record this season it seems a case of if, not when, they will achieve the feat. Neither are close to retiring and they both appear set to remain playing together in Kansas City for a long time yet.

While Hall-of-famer Tony Gonzalez (tight end) and the recently retired Tom Brady (quarterback) have set an incredibly high bar as far as the greatest in their respective positions to ever play the game, Kelce and Mahomes are on a trajectory to begin their careers that is unparalleled.

Despite having played in around 100 less games than those above him, Kelce already sits fourth all-time in both receptions and receiving yards – 814 rec for 10,344 yards compared to Gonzalez’s 1,325 rec for 15,127 yards – as well as currently having caught the sixth-most touchdowns in NFL history – 72 compared to Gonzalez’s 111 and Antonio Gate’s record 116.

As for individual postseason numbers, Kelce’s sole touchdown grab in the AFC Championship game against the Bengals – his third overall so far in this year’s playoffs – saw him tie Rob Gronkowski as the most prolific touchdown-catching tight end in NFL postseason history with 15 for their respective careers. He now also only trails Jerry Rice (22) on the list of all-time playoff TDs by any player.

Kelce’s 78 yards against the Bengals took him to 1,467 total yards for his postseason career and saw him leapfrog both Gronk (1,389 yards) and Julian Edelman (1,442) to sit second all-time also behind the great Jerry Rice (2,245).

Brady’s production over such a long period of time makes it ludicrous to currently compare with Mahomes, but if you isolate their first five years as starting quarterbacks in the NFL then you can see just how incredible the Chiefs quarterback has been early in his career.

Mahomes’ numbers dwarf Brady’s in every meaningful statistical category – 1,963 completions to 1,576, 66% completion percentage to 62%, 23,957 yards to 18,029, and 192 touchdowns to 123 against just 49 interceptions (66).

In his first five years, Mahomes’ achievements already read like a Hall-of-Fame resume – two times league MVP (vs Brady’s 0 in his first five seasons), three times All-Pro (0), five Pro Bowls (3), two times league passing TDs leader (1), five AFC Title game appearances (3), three Super Bowl appearances (3), one Super Bowl victory (3) and one Super Bowl MVP (2) so far – with a chance to make it two come Monday.

The statistics show that Mahomes and Kelce are incredible individually. Together they are virtually unstoppable.

Can the Eagles defence find a way to stop Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce on Monday. (Photo by David Eulitt)Source: Getty Images

On Monday, Mahomes and Kelce will face a stingy Eagles defence with the chance to add to their already legendary CVs.

If the Eagles are to win, stopping the duo of Mahomes and Kelce will go a long way. But when it comes to the superstar duo, knowing you need to stop them and actually doing so are two very different things.

When the Chiefs won the Super Bowl three years ago, Hill and Mahomes combined to make the play of the game when they connected on a 44-yard pass on third-and-15 in the fourth quarter that set up a Chiefs touchdown in their comeback win over the 49ers.

This time, Mahomes will be looking for a different hero as he seeks to overcome an interesting statistical quirk, and it’s hard to bet against that hero being his partner in crime Kelce.

Sections of this article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.

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