It is probably very fortuitous that Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl on his very first try. Otherwise, he could fall into the Dan Marino, best quarterback ever that didn’t win a Super Bowl, club.
Mahomes beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LV; Marino lost to San Francisco at Stanford Stadium to complete the 1984 season. Even though Joe Monata won his second, he would win two more, few figured this would be Marino’s last grasp that close to the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Miami Dolphins, with legendary head coach Don Shula, never won a Super Bowl after their back-to-back wins in 1972 and 1973. Marino came onto the scene in 1983, the sixth quarterback chosen in the first round. That class included two other current Hall of Fame members, John Elway and Jim Kelly.
Why did the Dolphins with Marino never return to another Super Bowl?
Because even though the talent in Miami around Marino was not up to championship standards, Marino was so good the Dolphins kept consistently having double-digit winning seasons.
He was just that good.
That meant the Dolphins never got an advantage in the drafting position, and the talent around Marino never met the standards required to win it all.
Mahomes is that good too.
The question will be Mahomes’ supporting cast. He is sure to make them better, pick up a couple wins mere mortals would miss during most regular seasons, but does that formula offer the Chiefs the best chance of fortifying their squad on both sides of the ball through the draft?
Fact is, the Chiefs are favored to win it this year, and this may well be Mahomes’ next best chance to win his second Super Bowl, joining a select group of eight other quarterbacks with a pair of Super Bowl victories. They are Bart Starr, Bob Griese, Jim Plunkett, Ben Roethliberger, Eli Manning, Roger Staubach, John Elway and Peyton Manning.
Only four quarterbacks have won more than two Super Bowl games. Tom Brady has the record with seven, while Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw each have four. Troy Aikman won three Super Bowl games in a four year period beginning in 1992.
Will Mahomes join this select group with a win this year?
I think not.
The Chiefs defense is not special, and because of Mahomes prolific passing it will constantly be challenged by opponents needing to score. High scoring teams are more often early postseason losers than eventual Super Bowl Champions.
If we take out the Chiefs, and we are, then the field of possibilities is greatly narrowed. How many other teams are good enough to win it on talent alone? And is talent alone enough?
Super Bowl winners have a common thread, they have a chemistry that works. It is a lot less reliable to predict than it is to see. Last year, Brady led a talented group of Buccaneers that had lacked leadership on the field for years. Along the way, the team gelled together to turn a mediocre first half of the season, they were 7-5 after 12 weeks, into a group on a unified mission to their Super Bowl victory.
Some team is going to capture that spirit in 2021 and celebrate in a hail of confetti next February, it’s likely not to be either of the teams that participated in last season’s Super Bowl.
Scratch the two favorites from possible returns to this year’s Super Bowl.