While it wasn’t an easy road to the title, the Kansas City Chiefs produced a true team effort to break their Super Bowl drought. Andy Reid called a great game; the offense, from stars like Patrick Mahomes, all the way though guys like Damien Williams, did their part. The team’s much-maligned defense even managed to come through, with some help from Kyle Shanahan‘s play-calling. Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, however, pinpointed another key to success.
While Kansas City had plenty of talent on the field, there was one, more subtle thing taking place behind the scenes. According to Tyrann Mathieu, it all started in the locker room.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl-winning season
Despite that change of personnel, the season began with more of the same. While the Chiefs won their first four games, it was on the strength of their offense more than anything else.
Then, the bottom fell out. Kansas City dropped two straight home games, losing to the Colts and Texans. While they managed to get back on track against the Denver Broncos, the victory came at a price: Patrick Mahomes left the game with a knee injury. Although the situation proved to be more scary than serious, the club still lost two of the next three games.
Starting in Week 11, though, everything changed. The Chiefs rattled off six straight wins to end the regular season and, perhaps most importantly, their defense started to gel. Once the playoffs began, the rest is history; the club, of course, mounted three straight comebacks to lift their first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years.
Tyrann Mathieu highlights the team’s atmosphere
Any observer can tell that the Kansas City Chiefs are an incredibly talented team. According to safety Tyrann Mathieu, however, the club’s key to success is something much less tangible.
“[Head coach Andy Reid] made it feel like a family atmosphere,” Mathieu explained on the “At Home with Linda and Drew Scott” podcast. “He made everybody feel like they were a part of it, and I could feel that even as a recruit when I was recruited by these people. Once I got in the building, it was the same thing. I think from top to bottom, they make it feel like family. I think it’s kind of understated. You’re dealing with a lot of alpha males and you expect them to come to work and be ready to work. But if you’re able to create a certain environment for these players, you’re able to get the best out of them, and family environments tend to get the best out of alpha males and different guys like that.”
That atmosphere, however, wasn’t isolated to the locker room. Mathieu drew a connection between that atmosphere and the defense’s gradual improvement.
“Around November, we really started to click defensively,” the safety explained. “At that point, we could tell that everything we were doing was starting to pay off: all the Thursdays getting together, and grabbing dinner on the road before the game, all the defense sitting on one part of the plane so we were able to talk and communicate. I think the more and more you’re able to do that and be around a person, I think naturally you want to do well for that person. I think that’s really what we were able to do.”
Both on and off the field, the Kansas City Chiefs are in a good spot
It took the Kansas City Chiefs 50 years to win their second Super Bowl title. While it’s impossible to know if they’ll make it back to the big game anytime soon, the franchise is certainly in a good spot.
On the field, everything obviously starts with Patrick Mahomes; if the playoffs proved anything, it’s that the quarterback is capable of doing virtually anything he wants on offense. Kansas City isn’t a one-man team, though. The Chiefs seems to have a good mix of stars and role players on both sides of the ball; that includes guys like Tyrann Mathieu.
Regardless of the sport, the best teams establish a winning culture. If this season was any indication, the Kansas City Chiefs have what it takes both on and off the field.