NFL

Super Bowl LV: Why Mahomes is primed to end NFL's longest wait for a repeat champion

By Sports Desk February 03, 2021

There are always fascinating storylines around a Super Bowl clash, but Tom Brady facing off against his heir apparent Patrick Mahomes might be as good as it gets.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Brady will look to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become the first team to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy on home soil this Sunday, in his first season with the team.

To do that the Bucs must find a way to derail the Chiefs, who are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since Brady and the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004.

Stats Perform's NFL research analyst Ethan Cooperson will be in the commentary booth as part of CBS' broadcast crew with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in Florida.

He has outlined the history behind the longest-ever NFL streak without a repeat Super Bowl winner.

Cooperson told Stats Perform News: "So we have the drought without a repeat Super Bowl champion goes back to the Patriots of '03 and '04. 

"It's actually the longest drought in NFL history, going back to the days before there were even postseason games.

"Then, the champion was just determined by the league standings before there were Super Bowls and there was just an NFL championship game and then later an AFL championship game."

Cooperson has detailed the reasons why Mahomes is likely to help the Chiefs end the long drought, even if it does not happen this year.
 
Mahomes' legacy is winning

The 2018 NFL MVP and 2019 Super Bowl MVP is well known for his spectacular plays and outrageous throws from all angles.

Cooperson, though, points to his incredible win-loss record as something which has him on a historic trajectory.

While such a win rate is tough to sustain, if anyone can, it is Mahomes.

"Keep in mind Brady has never won back to back Super Bowl MVPs, Mahomes has a chance to do that," Cooperson said to Stats Perform News.

"No one has done that since Terry Bradshaw over 40 years ago. 

"To achieve what Mahomes has achieved at his age is phenomenal. There is no quarterback who has started two Super Bowls and won an MVP while 25 or younger. 

"The only player to do that is [Dallas Cowboys running back] Emmitt Smith. 

"Mahomes is now going to be the first quarterback - for him to have done this at such a young age and to have the success is phenomenal. 

"He has a 44-9 record, so that's an .830 winning percentage, regular season and playoffs. That's the highest all time for any quarterback with at least 50 starts, Otto Graham is second and Brady is third. 

"So the legacy, as much as we love the aerial display, the amazing throws that he makes, the improbable throws that he makes, Mahomes is a phenomenal winner. 

"We can't overlook that he's winning games at a higher rate than Brady. I don't know if that kind of an .800 winning percentage is sustainable, but there's no reason right now why it shouldn't be."

Chiefs are starting a new cycle

The rise of analytics is changing the NFL – just look at how many more teams are going for it on fourth down these days.

Another change resulting from data is a better understanding of the value of passing the ball, as opposed to the traditional strategy of establishing the run or having a balanced offense.

Even a middling passing offense is more efficient on a play-by-play basis than a league-leading rushing attack.

That trend suits the league-leading passing attack - with Mahomes and some amazing Chiefs firepower deployed by Andy Reid - perfectly.

Cooperson continued: "It's worth noting there's been one team to lead the league in passing offense and win the Super Bowl in that same season. 

"That's what the Chiefs are trying to do, it has only happened once in the Super Bowl era with the 1999 Rams. 

"This is again perhaps a different era now that a team that's maybe dominant on offense and dominant in the passing game is going to be an elite team.

"This is shifting now and Mahomes is bringing in this new era of passing teams winning.

"We are [near a Chiefs dynasty] and it's interesting, though, that the Patriots dynasty, if we call it that for all those years, was not built around a slew of Hall of Fame players. 

"It was really Brady and an ever-changing, supporting cast, though Rob Gronkowski came in in the last decade and he's a bit of an exception to that. 

"The Pittsburgh Steelers teams of the 70s, they won four Super Bowls in six seasons, Hall of Fame players at almost every position. 

"The Patriots of today were nothing like that. The Chiefs are a little bit more based on star power because they've got a superstar tight end in Travis Kelce, a star wide receiver in Tyreek Hill. 

"It's a different type of team but it's a team that's going to be built to score points for many years to come."

The league of the quarterbacks

It has always been hard for NFL teams to create a dynasty due to the draft system, salary cap and free agency constantly rearranging the pecking order.

However, with the modern game now more reliant on quarterback play more than ever before, having a dominant player at the position like Mahomes moves the needle to a greater degree than it may have done even five or 10 years ago.

Cooperson added: "So clearly, in this age of free agency, with players changing teams, it's difficult to keep teams together and to sustain excellence. 

"I do, however, think that the way the league has become quarterback dominated that so much of the game now is based on having a great QB and then building and building your team from there. 

"I don't know that it's going to stay this difficult to repeat as champions, certainly. You would think that any team with Mahomes for the next 10, 15 years is going to be at least a contender to repeat. 

"I don't think this drought will continue. It might continue this year, but I think that soon enough we'll see a team, very possibly the Chiefs, repeating as Super Bowl champions. 

"Since the Patriots repeated in the '03 and '04 seasons, only two defending champs have even reached the Super Bowl. 

"It was the Seattle Seahawks, who lost to the Patriots, and the Patriots who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Both of those teams led the game in the fourth quarter but could not hold on. 

"So only two teams since then have even gotten this far, it's just been such a tall order over these years. 

"The Patriots have had excellent teams that could not repeat as champions. I don't doubt, though, that Mahomes will be the guy to do it, and if not this time, then maybe soon after this."

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    Ash Barty said she focused on enjoying herself to avoid getting hampered by the pressure and expectation of delivering an Australian Open title.

    The 25-year-old ended Australia's 44-year wait for a singles champion in Melbourne by beating Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (7-2) on Saturday.

    World number one Barty claimed her third grand slam title, landing the trophy without dropping a set.

    All the talk at the tournament focused on Barty ending Australia's drought, but the reigning Wimbledon champion said her ability to just enjoy herself was key.

    "I think the expectation was that I would always come out and give my best, and that's all I've ever done," she told a news conference.

    "I have been close before, but I think now that we've been able to achieve this, I think you guys don't need to talk about it anymore.

    "You were the ones who added fuel to the fire, because for us it was just the same processes and the same enjoyment, regardless of where we're playing in the world, what round it is. That has no impact on how much I enjoy my tennis and go out there or how much I try and compete.

    "I think it's being able to really simplify that and then just come out and enjoy it. I mean, this fortnight, seven times I got to walk out onto a beautiful court with incredible fans and try and do the best I can do, and that's all I could ask of myself.

    "Now to be able to have this part of my dream kind of achieved is amazing, and I think I have to really understand that that came from the processes that we put in with my team and the people that are around me, because without them, I wouldn't be half the person that I am."

    Barty came from 5-1 down in the second set to overcome Collins, sealing her victory with a forehand cross-court passing winner.

    After a successful fortnight, Barty screamed in delight to celebrate her win.

    "It was a little bit surreal. I think I didn't quite know what to do or what to feel, and I think just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little bit unusual for me, and I think being able to celebrate with everyone who was there in the crowd, the energy was incredible tonight," she said.

    "I think being able to understand how much work my team and I have done behind the scenes and over the last few years, to get to this point to be able to have this opportunity was really special.

    "I think it just kind of all came out at once, and yeah, it was a really, really special moment."

  • Giroud grateful to be learning from Ibrahimovic: 'He's an example for many strikers' Giroud grateful to be learning from Ibrahimovic: 'He's an example for many strikers'

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    Ibrahimovic has made a big impact in his second spell with Milan since returning to the club in January 2020, scoring 36 goals in 66 appearances in all competitions.

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    Giroud has made a steady enough start to life at San Siro after joining from Chelsea last July with six goals and one assist in his first 20 appearances, 11 of those being starts.

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    The former Chelsea striker has spent various spells on the sidelines through injury and illness but now feels ready to start contributing more as Milan target a Scudetto success.

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    Ash Barty can still get better but she will not win the US Open unless a change that is out of her hands is made, according to coach Craig Tyzzer.

    Barty became the first local in 44 years to win the Australian Open, beating Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in the final on Saturday.

    The 25-year-old dealt with the pressure and expectation in Melbourne to win her third grand slam title.

    But Tyzzer said there was still growth left in Barty, who came from 5-1 down in the second set against Collins.

    "There's still areas we continue to work on still, she's got to get better at. I'm not going to tell what you they are because that's giving away a few too many secrets. But there's still room for improvement," he told a news conference.

    "I think what she's done really well is just she's enjoyed it. She's been really composed and enjoyed playing. Like tonight, we knew what the challenges were going to be, like Danielle can just blow you off the court at times. So she was looking forward to that challenge, 'Okay, how do I figure out how to beat this girl who can just hit you into the corners and hurt you every time you drop it short?'

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    Barty is the second active women's player to have won a grand slam on all three surfaces, joining Serena Williams.

    But Barty's chances of completing a career Grand Slam by winning the US Open rely on something out of her control – changing the balls.

    "The US Open really needs to change the ball for the girls, the fact they still use a different ball for guys and girls. It's a terrible ball for someone like Ash," Tyzzer said.

    "Even in Cincinnati when they use the US Open ball outside she could actually get some loft out of the court, but the ball itself is so light. It was the only tournament last year and really for two years where she uses a gut racquet, but I had to change her to a poly just to get any sort of control of the ball.

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