Pressure on Reid to make the most of magical Mahomes

It would seem logical for the losing team in the Super Bowl to win it the following year.

Which explains why the Chiefs are favored to win it all this year after getting routed by the Bucs 31-9 in last year’s Super Bowl.

But it is more difficult for a losing team to win the Super Bowl the following year than you might think.

It has happened only once since 1972 when the perfect Dolphins won it all after losing to Dallas at the end of the 1971 season.

That team was the Pats when Tom Brady led them to a victory over the Rams after the 2019 season after they lost to the Eagles the previous season.

Now Brady, who won his seventh ring with the Bucs last year, is trying to repeat for the second time while the Chiefs are going for their third Super Bowl appearance in a row after they beat the 49ers two years ago and lost to the Bucs last year.

The problem for the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl is that their offensive line was ravaged and Andy Reid, not noted a premier playoff coach, didn’t adjust and Patrick Mahomes was running for his life much of the game.

Reid is only 17-15 in the playoffs and 1-2 in the Super Bowl and also didn’t coach well when his Eagles lost to the Patriots after the 2004 season. Trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter, Reid didn’t go to the huddle late in the fourth quarter and took two much time scoring a touchdown and lost by three.

This is a pivotal year for Reid as he enters his fourth year coaching Mahomes. The Chiefs put a lot of emphasis on improving their offensive line. We’ll see if that effort will pay dividends.

Does Reid join the elite ranks of two-time Super Bowl winning coaches or does he fall short again?

The Chiefs are virtually guaranteed a spot in the playoffs but then things will get dicey for Reid.

Reid has established himself as one of the great regular season coaches but has won only one title in 21 years as a head coach with the Eagles and Chiefs.

Now he has Mahomes in his prime for several years. We’ll see if he can win more rings with him.

We live in an era when several top coaches won it only once with a premier quarterback like Sean Payton with Drew Brees and Pete Carroll with Russell Wilson and Mike Tomlin with Ben Roethlisberger.

Reid doesn’t want that to be his legacy.

Bucs might have jinxed themselves with gaudy Super Bowl ring

The odds appear to be against the Tampa Bay Bucs repeating.

Even though they have Tom Brady and virtually the entire team back that crushed the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, the oddsmakers still have the Chiefs favored to win it all. Tampa Bay is the second choice.

That is because repeating is more difficult than you would think in the 21st century. It hasn’t been done since Brady and the Pats won back to back after the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Brady would win three more Super Bowls with the Pats but didn’t repeat each time. And didn’t repeat after he won the first one so he is one for six while trying to repeat.

He is now attempting to join Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterback to repeat twice.

Among the quarterbacks who have failed to repeat since Brady did it are the Mannings, Peyton and Eli, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson.

But if Brady does win his eighth and repeats twice, the Bucs have another challenge.

How do they top this year’s Super Bowl ring? They set a new ring standard.

Teams have been trying to outdo each other with gaudy rings in recent years, but the Bucs did something unique with a ring designed by Jason of Beverly Hills, a custom jeweler that has produced several rings for championship teams but had never done a Super Bowl ring.

The company CEO said the Bucs wanted to define what a Super Bowl ring looks like and since there comes a point where you can’t make them any bigger, he said you have to do better.

Their biggest innovation was the twist-off top, the first for a Super Bowl ring. On the bottom of the removal top, laser etched in gold, is the word HISTORIC along with a description of the fact the Bucs were the first team to win it on their home field.

When the top comes off, it reveals a handcrafted replica of Raymond James James Stadium. The left and right bands feature two panels, one customized for the player and other focused on the team.

On the top are two Lombardi Trophies in honor of the team’s two Super Bowl rings and it contains 15 carats of white diamonds and 14 karat yellow and white gold along with the team’s signature flag logo carved from red stone. The 319 diamonds represent the 31-9 final score.

Those are just some of the highlights of the rings – every person in the organization got one—and gives the players more incentive to repeat.

Imagine what that ring would look like if they do it.

Saban needs to own up to Brees mistake

Nick Saban’s legacy is that he is one of the best college coaches in NFL history.

He has won seven national championships, one more than Bear Bryant, who won six. And Saban may add more to his gaudy resume.

Yet there is one blemish on his coaching record that still seems to haunt him – his 15-17 record in Miami as an NFL coach in 2005 and 2006.

That record doesn’t diminish his reputation as a coach. Very few successful college coaches have won NFL titles. Paul Brown, Jimmy Johnson, Pete Carroll and Barry Switzer are the only four to do it and Switzer took over a team that won the two previous titles in Dallas under Johnson.

The signature moment of Saban’s short NFL career came when he bypassed signing an injured Drew Brees when he was a free agent and signed Daunte Culpepper. Brees, of course, went on to star for the Saints while Culpepper, who had knee injuries, was at the end of the line.

It was an obvious mistake by Saban, but he never takes responsibility for it. He blames the doctors for flunking Brees on the physical. Which wasn’t surprising because Brees arm was in a sling.

The interesting thing is that Saban doesn’t seem willing to let go of the narrative that it was the doctor’s fault that the Dolphins didn’t sign Brees.

He even brought it up again when Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses wasn’t drafted and signed as a free agent by the Jaguars. Moses missed the 2019 season with a torn ACL and then admitted he played last year in pain.

So it wasn’t surprising teams didn’t want to risk signing a player who admitted he played in pain last year and whose production dropped from 2018.

But Saban said the teams should have overlooked that fact he played hurt last year and drafted him. And then he brought up Brees and said it was another case where the doctors made a mistake.

“So I guess they (doctors) make mistakes, too,” he said.

Of course, we don’t know yet when they made a mistake on Moses until he proves he can play in the NFL on his damaged knee.

And Jason Cole, who covered the Dolphins when Saban was coaching them and said he enjoyed covering Saban, noted that Saban was in charge and could have signed Brees if he wanted to.

PFT made a similar point that Saban certainly could have found a doctor to give the green light to sign Brees if he wanted to. Sean Payton, the New Orleans coach signed him.

The larger issue is that Saban apparently can’t get over the Brees mistake.

But there’s one way Saban could still prove he can win in the NFL. He could leave Alabama and coach another NFL team. Certainly Saban would be in demand if he showed an interest in coming back to the NFL.

Of course, Saban isn’t going to do that. He has it too good at Alabama where he can recruit an unending stream of five-star players and usually has more talent than the opposing teams he faced.

So if Saban doesn’t want to coach in the NFL again, he should stop bringing up Brees as a reminder that his short tenure in the NFL wasn’t a success.

49ers’ bet on Lance is big and bold

There is an old saying that owners own, coaches coach and players play.

For the San Francisco 49ers, things are a little more complicated and the roles are blurred.

That is why the 49ers’ decision to give up a third-round pick this year and their first-round picks the next two years to move up nine spots to draft Trey Lance with the third pick was a move with a lot of ramifications for the future of the team.

Yes, the same Lance who played just 19 college games at North Dakota State, just one last year.
And the team already has Jimmy Garoppolo, who obviously is no longer in their long-term plans.

Lance was one of the five quarterbacks drafted with the first 15 picks. The other four are Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Mac Jones.

We all know that not all five are going to make it big. That’s not realistic.

What we don’t know is which ones are going to live up to expectations and which ones don’t.

It is fair to say, though, that the 49ers and Lance are in the most interesting situation.
To start with, they have to decide what is Garappolo’s future.

Coach Kyle Shanahan made a statement before the draft when asked about Jimmy G that he had to backtrack on after the draft.

“I totally bombed that,” Shanahan said. “I hated how that came off. I talked to Jimmy about it right away. I didn’t realize (how it sounded) when I did it. A person (reporter) I have a relationship with who sometimes he asks me what I think is a silly question, sometimes I mess with him back, and that’s kind of what I was doing. That was between me and that guy, had nothing to do with Jimmy when I said, ‘I didn’t know if we’d be alive Sunday.’ ”

As if things weren’t complicated enough, owner Jed York said publicly he asked Frank Gore for his opinion on the quarterbacks in the draft and he endorsed Lance.

It’s unusual for an owner to ask a player for his advice. Gore played with the 49ers for a decade and is currently a free agent.

Gore also said he would be OK if Garoppolo played for two more years before his contract runs out.

Let’s sort this out. There is no way Garoppolo is going to play two more seasons and then walk away as a free agent. He will be traded either before or after the upcoming season.

The larger question is how good Lance is going to be. If he turns out to be another Carson Wentz, Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are going to have some explaining to do. They have put their future in Lance’s hands and need Lance to be an elite quarterback.

It is like they are walking on a high wire without a net as they prepare for upcoming season.

Tomlin needs to start justifying Steelers’ patience

Bum Phillips was fired by the late Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams at the end of the 1980 season after he lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion in the playoffs three years in a row.

Two years later, the Oilers were 1-8 in the strike season of 1982 and then went 2-14, 3-13 and 5-11 in the next three seasons.

That may be the best example of why it is usually not a good idea to fire a playoff coach because he keeps losing in the playoffs.

And it brings to mind the often overlooked reality that the goal isn’t winning the Super Bowl. It is to stay in contention to keep the fans coming and avoid those two or three win seasons.

Which brings us to the case of Steeler coach Mike Tomlin and the team’s recent decision to extend his contract through the 2024 season.

Giving him that long of an extension wasn’t that popular in Pittsburgh because of his record in the last decade – just three playoff wins — but it is the Steeler way of doing things. They’ve only had three coaches since 1969 when Chuck Noll was hired.

And it was really a two-year extension because they already had an option for the 2020 season.

The extension came off a frustrating season when the team started off 11-0 and then collapsed, losing five of the last six including an ugly 48-37 playoff loss to a Cleveland team that was missing its head coach because of Covid.

Despite having a Super Bowl victory on his resume, he has an 8-8 playoff record and hasn’t won a playoff game in four years.

He missed the playoffs two of those four years.
In his last two playoff losses, the Steelers gave up 93 points although turnovers played a big role in both losses. They lost to a Jacksonville team quarterbacked by Blake Bortles, 45-42, in 2017.

Tomlin didn’t appear to have his team ready to play either game and in the 2017 loss to the Jaguars, the perception was that they were looking past the Jaguars to an AFC title game duel against the Patriots.

Tomlin even said during the season that the elephant in the room was that they would be playing against the Patriots. It was a game they never got to play and it is never a good idea for a coach to publicly look ahead.

The bottom line is that even Tomlin likes to say the standard is the standard and not winning in the playoffs for four years in a row is not the standard for a team that has won six Super Bowls.

Still, Tomlin has never had a losing season in his 14 years as the Steeler coach and his winning percentage of .640 is better than any active coach except Bill Belichick.

And my colleague Clark Judge has written Tomlin should be in the conversation for a Hall of Fame berth.

Meanwhile, things aren’t going to get any easier for Tomlin the next four years.

Roethlisberger is near the end, and the team doesn’t have anyone waiting in the wings to replace him. The team appears to be something of a rebuilding mode.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II appears likely to stick with him as long as he continues to avoid having losing seasons. He knows that changing coaches can make things worse instead of better.

For the Steelers’ spoiled fan base, though, winning in the regular season is not the standard. They are looking for playoff victories and Super Bowl appearances.

Tomlin needs to show he can once again meet that standard.