The Kansas City Chiefs have repeated as Super Bowl Champions, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime this past Super Bowl Sunday night.
Behind all-world superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs now have the early onset of the latest NFL dynasty, having won three of the past five Super Bowls, and appeared in four of the past five NFL championship games respectively.
While replicating such success won’t be easy for aspiring NFL hopefuls elsewhere, there are a few things the Indianapolis Colts can learn from Kansas City’s recent football dominance:
1. Find your Superman at starting quarterback
After Sunday’s Super Bowl showing, Mahomes has safely cemented himself as the best quarterback in the sport—and likely now a Top 3 greatest QB of all-time, as he’s in the driver’s seat to ultimately become the consensus goat and best Tom Brady by the time it’s all said and done (given both his tremendous individual and team success so far).
The top of the AFC isn’t going to get any easier anytime soon, as there’s a number of stars currently quarterbacking including Mahomes, Josh Allen, reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and now arguably C.J. Stroud among them.
Can Colts’ second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson soon join such elite QB company?
What’s as impressive about Mahomes late in the big game Sunday and overtime wasn’t just how cool, calm, and collected he was under pressure and under the game’s biggest lights, but how he used his legs to extend and make plays, finishing with 66 total rushing yards.
Besides Jackson, there may not be any better young quarterback in the game than Richardson at running with the football—assuming he can stay fully healthy and avoid injury, something that cut his rookie campaign significantly short last year.
The Colts need their own ‘alien’ at starting quarterback, and given the initial tantalizing dynamic skill-set that Richardson showed in limited action before a season-ending shoulder injury, there’s real reason for hope—if he can continue to grow and develop.
Which leads to...
2. Can offensive minds think alike?
There’s no Tom Brady without Bill Belichick, just as there’s no Patrick Mahomes without Andy Reid right now, as the veteran head coach is arguably still the best offensive mind in the sport of professional football right now—with ‘Big Red’ coming out once again on top!
Reid’s offensive play-calling during pivotal downs and in critical late game situations was masterful—including the game winning 3-yard touchdown out reception to Mecole Hardman, following initial motion inside.
The Colts have one of the brightest young offensive minded head coaches in the NFL right now, Shane Steichen. I mean, just ask the Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Sirianni if they missed him down the stretch this past season.
Despite losing Richardson for the majority of this past season, and without star workhorse Jonathan Taylor for a good chunk of 2023, Steichen kept the Colts afloat as one of the league’s better offenses, even playing with a backup quarterback, Gardner Minshew.
The Colts were in the playoff hunt until the very last offensive snap of their season and routinely scored 20+ points offensively (13 of their 17 regular season games to be exact).
That’s a credit to Steichen.
Steichen’s almost just as important as Richardson in turning the recent tide in Indianapolis and getting the Colts back in serious contention for a Super Bowl again (although to be fair, it starts with winning the division which Indianapolis hasn’t done since 2014, as the longest current drought in the AFC South).
So far the early coaching returns have been nothing short of great for Steichen—as it looks like a slam dunk hire for Indianapolis, but him aiding Richardson’s continued growth and development remains pivotal for the Colts’ future deep playoff hopes.
3. Building a Top 10 NFL defensive unit?
Perhaps now lost in the shuffle, given the late game heroics and ending to this one, was that this was a very boring and sluggish game thanks to both the Chiefs and 49ers defenses. I mean it was 13-10 Kansas City entering the fourth quarter!
While the quarterback-head coaching pairing is critical to the Colts future success, let’s not sleep on the Colts defense’s success either, as Indianapolis will need at least a respectable one backing them up on the other side of the field. (However, having Richardson back and a more consistent and big play offense can certainly help the defense’s cause).
For perspective, the 49ers ranked 4th best overall in team defensive DVOA, the Kansas City Chiefs 7th best respectively—while the Colts were 20th during the 2023 regular season. Meaning is a Top 10 defensive DVOA now required for Lombardi hopefuls?
If it hadn’t been for the Chiefs defense limiting the 49ers high-powered offense, they’re not even in a position to come back and later win this football game in overtime!
We’ve seen some flashes and even an exceptional stretch from the Colts defense, but after their latest shortcoming (being limited with a depleted secondary last year), they haven’t been able to quite consistently put it all together yet into becoming a Top 10 defensive unit.
Will 2024 finally prove differently?
4. Offensive Game-changers
Look, this may be my weakest point because the Chiefs were able to win back-to-back Super Bowls with Tyreek Hill having taken his talents to South Beach to play with Tua.
That being said, with music (and world) icon Taylor Swift gazing dreamingly at him with googly eyes from her private stadium suite (in between chugging a stadium beer of course), Chiefs All-Pro tight end (and future Hall of Famer) Travis Kelce finished with 9 receptions for 93 receiving yards. It wasn’t necessarily a dominant vintage performance by Kelce—by any stretch, but it still shows he can be a game-changing weapon at the game’s biggest stage.
All it took was some sideline yelling at Andy Reid to get going.
Aside from pending free agent Michael Pittman Jr., do the Colts have anyone remotely in Kelce’s caliber of elite league playmaker? Maybe, maybe Josh Downs in time?
There’s particularly no one right now from the tight end position (*with the closest being big-bodied Jelani Woods, if he can get those hamstrings fully healthy and right), which makes me wonder if the Colts could have their own ‘puppy dog eyes’ set on prized Georgia tight end prospect Brock Bowers in the mid-first round of the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft.