The thought occurred to me after perusing the latest box score with mentions of a Joe Flacco interception for one team and a quarterback competition with the other. In a flash, I felt gratitude with a fleeting thought akin to, “So glad those days are over.” Everyone in Chiefs Kingdom can feel that way with Patrick Mahomes at the helm.
Most of us have been living in a long, long season of reflection. A global pandemic has caused so many of us to take stock of our lives—to appreciate our loved ones and the time we get to spend with them, to want to take advantage of the daily routines we took for granted when things shut down for a season. For me, it’s also been a a year of taking stock of the way I want to live and reflecting on how to get there.
Perhaps that sort of reflection on “the state of things” has carried over into my fandom for the Kansas City Chiefs, but when reading the box score for the Patriots-Eagles preseason game played on Thursday evening, it occurred to me then that the worry-free years of having Patrick Mahomes as my favorite team’s quarterback is something I never want to take for granted.
As a Chiefs fan, I never want to forget the joys of having Patrick Mahomes under center.
Right now, the Patriots aren’t sure whether they will go with Cam Newton for another season hoping for different results with a reloaded roster or their new first-round pick in Mac Jones. The Eagles are on the other side hoping that Jalen Hurts can carry them where Carson Wentz could not anymore—at least according to their internal evaluations. Wentz, meanwhile, is over in Indianapolis, where the Colts have attached their wagons to the Eagles’ castoff with crossed fingers.
NFL franchises are plagued with these issues at quarterback across the league. There are quarterback competitions and fading veterans. There’s uncertainty and unfounded hope. Some teams can already count themselves out with their present QB situations—seriously, Sam Bradford behind a poor o-line in Carolina?—and others will realize they spent big only to go around the same carousel—likely the Jets again, but who knows.
Even teams with very good to great quarterbacks face significant issues. Trade winds surround an unhappy Russell Wilson in Seattle, and the Green Bay Packers somehow bungled having the reigning NFL MVP. The Buccaneers know they’re looking at a short window of the GOAT in his forties. Can Dak Prescott carry a team? Can Lamar Jackson become a more well-rounded threat? Can Baker Mayfield take the same sort of leap that Josh Allen did last season?
Of course, most teams have it much more than the aforementioned issues there. As much as Chiefs fans love Ryan Fitzpatrick, we’re also very glad he’s not the best starting option on our own team. Pittsburgh Steelers fans are waving the slowest goodbye ever to the fading arm strength of Ben Roethlisberger, and they’re likely to lose another full season of a stout defense because of it. The Detroit Lions are revving the Jared Goff engine hoping it will perform differently in the Motor City.
Even the AFC West is burdened with QB questions, especially in the lesser franchises of Denver and Las Vegas. Raiders fans have to keep talking themselves into Derek Carr on an annual basis, while Broncos fans are flipping perhaps the league’s saddest coin with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. Justin Herbert looked great last season for the Chargers, but even he’s not a sure thing without a greater body of work now that the league has a year of tape on him.
That’s not to say, at all, that Patrick Mahomes is the only worry-free quarterback situation in the NFL but it is close. In the short-term and the long-term, as long as he is healthy, the Chiefs are going to be automatic contenders regardless of what other talent is around him. Fortunately for all parties involved, Brett Veach has figured out ways to rebuild entire positions in a single offseason with significant signings and blockbuster trades, all while balancing the books by finding cost-controlled talent and depth via the draft.
These are good days for Chiefs Kingdom, who know very well the pains that other teams are facing. Years and years (and years and years) of poor quarterback play have been set aside ever since Andy Reid’s arrival and Alex Smith’s ability to help him turn things around at the position. However, before that, it was a long, miserable list with occasional veteran oases who would provide some relief. Around the short-yet-appreciated stints of Joe Montana or Trent Green, Chiefs Kingdom had to watch the likes of Matt Cassel and Tyler Thigpen, Bill Kenney and Brock Huard.
Every team has their issues and concerns heading into a season, and the K.C. Chiefs are no different. However, at the game’s most important position, the Chiefs are just about the only franchise that can breathe easy. It’s a nice feeling to have a worry-free quarterback, and as a fan, I never want to forget the joys of having Mahomes under center.