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Inbox: He's on that trajectory

It’s become the theater of the absurd

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Andrew from Placentia, CA

So no Inbox for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday? That could only mean one thing: the Insiders have gone on a four-day darkness retreat.

Something like that. Or not.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi II, so, if Aaron Rodgers comes out of his four days of darkness and sees his own shadow, does that mean we have to wait six more weeks for his decision?

A lot of folks took a crack at this joke. I liked this one best.

Mark from Missoula, MT

If the Chiefs have a framed check written from Lombardi for $2,000, that means they haven't cashed it. Does that mean we have an extra $2,000 in salary cap space?

This was even funnier.

Steve from Soda Springs, ID

Hello II, I know the ref thing is getting old but did you guys feel the deflation of the crowd through the TV when the holding call was made at the end of the game? It was a wet blanket thrown on 60-plus thousand fans and countless on TV. I didn't have a horse in the race so it really doesn't matter, but a game as well played as this one was, wouldn't it have been nice to see if the Eagles could match what the Chiefs did in that last minute? It was like the Super Bowl ended at 59 minutes.

Everyone except KC fans wanted to see Philly get one more possession. The game deserved that. Oh well, so it goes.

Etienne from Saint-Joachim-de-Tourelle, Canada

It might have been one of the greatest Super Bowls, until the last two minutes.

Even with all the catch/no-catch confoundment – and I understood the rationale behind every replay review and decision, I really did – it was an incredible contest. I also understood the flag at the end, and my instinct says the official threw it based on seeing a jersey tug without regard for how much restriction actually occurred. But I don't blame him for throwing it. Bradberry admitted afterward he held the receiver and was hoping they'd let it go. We were all hoping they'd let it go in that moment when it wasn't visibly egregious. Again, so it goes.

Shane from Philadelphia, PA

The "holding" call at the end of the game reminded me so much of the NFC Championship Game against the Bucs. Refs hadn't called much all game but did at the end. Hopefully the league can make some improvements.

A common sentiment in the Inbox re: the Kevin King play. I get that, as far as questioning how much the tug really mattered on the play. But in the broader sense it wasn't quite the same for me. I remember one early replay Sunday night showing a quick arm grab over the middle on an incomplete pass, but that was about it in terms of the "letting them play" vibe. There wasn't much else shown, so whether subtle grabbing like that was going on a lot, or not, it's hard to say. In the Packers-Bucs title game, obvious downfield contact was ignored on a play that resulted in an interception and changed the complexion of everything. I felt like that set an obvious tone that was conveniently discarded at crunch time. Different to me, despite the similar thread.

Ed from Framingham, MA

Well … did we expect anything less?

As far as an officiating moment having an outsized impact on the outcome? That's the NFL now. I think we have to accept this is the game these days.

Tucker from Belton, TX

What an incredibly fitting way to end the season. Nothing will change, but we'll keep watching I guess.

The TVs were on and eyeballs were on them. That's the reason for the NFL's product. The rest is ancillary.

Ari from Chicago, IL

I'm so outraged by the terrible officiating in the Super Bowl that I think I'm done watching the NFL for at least the next six months!

Ha, good one.

George from Hamel, IL

Wow. Going to a condensed "victory formation" so you have three players to push the QB. The NFL needs to legislate that out of the game.

I brought it up back in October, if not last year. It's become the theater of the absurd, and it took the FOX announcers until the fourth quarter to acknowledge all the pushing as part of Philly's "greatness" in short yardage. They were grossly enamored with a play that isn't football.

John from Topeka, KS

I know gambling isn't allowed, but if you were forced to take the over/under on "Eagles' fourth-down conversions in the Super Bowl" it'd have to be a push, right?

Please see yourself out.

Richard from Madison, WI

Why do they play the biggest game of the year on a greasy field?

Great question. That was a shame, and an embarrassment for the NFL frankly. The Eagles played the Cardinals on that field in October. The Chiefs played there in Week 1. I'm sure both teams brought the same cleats. Teams keep track of stuff like that. Something was different about how that field was prepared and that shouldn't happen.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Boy, oh boy, was that defensive touchdown ever big.

Jalen Hurts played an absolutely superb football game and made one mistake. It just turned out to be a monstrous one.

Curt from Algonquin, IL

With the Chiefs' win on Sunday, are we justified in saying that Patrick Mahomes has established a career trajectory of becoming the GOAT? Obviously, he's not there yet, there is a lot of work to be done, and a lot that has to go his way. However, looking at the stat lines he has established so far, it would take a dramatic reversal of fortune for him to fall short of being the best ever.

A lot can happen in a game full of variables that wouldn't necessarily have to be "dramatic" for his fortunes to change. But two league MVPs, two Lombardis and two Super Bowl MVPs at age 27? Yeah, he's on that trajectory. Brady had three titles by this point but then went a decade before getting his fourth, so you never know.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

If Mahomes retires today, is he in the Hall of Fame?


Matt from Keswick, VA

Congrats to the Chiefs! Talk about pressure on a kicker! It's one thing to be your team's last chance to pull out a victory, but to intentionally pass up the go-ahead, walk-in touchdown so you can kick the 3 in the final seconds. My hat's off to Butker in that situation. I'd have been a pile of jelly.

His kick to win the AFC title game was much tougher, and if Butker is the pro I believe he is, he absolutely wanted that game to come down to his foot after his missed kick in the first half.

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Well, that didn't go well for the Eagles. Absolutely heartbreaking loss for them. Solidified for me that there's nothing worse in the NFL than to finish second. To be that close and not get it done, can't imagine how that locker room feels.

I've covered two Super Bowls, the Packers' loss in XXXII and their win in XLV. Interviewing players in both situations afterward, the gap between joy and devastation is never wider than following that final game. Never.

Ken from New York, NY

I know this will sound silly, but I find myself kind of sad that somebody had to lose that game.

The drama captures us because somebody's gotta lose. That's what defines drama.

Rachel from Appleton, WI

Spoff, did your daughter sing the national anthem at the UWGB women's basketball game Sunday? She was really good and so was the game. Maybe she needs to sing at the last two home games just in case she is their lucky charm.

Yes, that was Kelsey. She was home from college over the weekend and sang the anthem at the men's game Saturday night and women's game Sunday afternoon. I think the UWGB women are doing just fine on their own, to be honest.

Dave from Waterford, OH

Funny how life, and sporting history, unfolds sometimes. If Jared Cook doesn't fumble against Tampa Bay in the second half of that divisional playoff game matchup in 2020, the Saints come to Lambeau and I like our chances a great deal. A victory over New Orleans puts us in the Super Bowl against a greatly depleted Kansas City offensive line. If not for the Cook fumble, I believe the Packers would have been SB LV champs!

I would contend David Bakhtiari's knee injury in Week 17 did more damage to the Packers' chances that postseason than anything else.

Donald from Philadelphia, PA

Your answer to the question about team sports calls to mind a discussion some friends and I have been having recently about football. We think that defense in the NFL is all about your weakest link – very much in support of your "it takes all 11" argument, with the thought that one missed assignment can totally beat you. However, in contrast, we think offense is about your strongest links – superstars get the job done and it's hard to win consistently on offense without them. What do you think?

See previous answer.

Gary from Belle Mead, NJ

To me it looks like the mobile/running quarterback is now a requirement to be a contender in the NFL. I saw very few plays in the SB that did not depend on the QB on the move or a threat for the QB to run. Do you think the pocket QB era is over?

I wouldn't say it's over, but I believe it's a lot more difficult to win the biggest, most competitive games without the QB being a threat to the defense with his legs. Defenses are so aggressive, trying to dictate the action, and it's really hard to hold off the opposing pass rush in all the gotta-have-it moments. The QB must be able to escape and make them pay for the aggression.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

How did those KC receivers get so open? There wasn't an Eagle in the vicinity on the touchdowns.

The Eagles overreacted to pre-snap motions on each of the last two Chiefs TDs, so when the motions were actually bluffs, the defense was way out of position. I suspect KC saw something in the first half that tipped how Philly was trying to stay one step ahead of the Chiefs' motion game, so KC had counters ready when needed.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great weekend, even if busy, and that not doing II helped calm Wes's caffeine down. He mentioned that it's been a quiet offseason, partly due to no changes in the coaching staff, but didn't Jerry Gray leave? Any thoughts on who his relief may be?

News has leaked that Greg Williams, a DB coach with four different NFL teams over the last decade (most recently Arizona from 2019-22), is replacing Gray as defensive passing game coordinator, but there's been no official announcement yet.

Mark from Apollo Beach, FL

Morning Mike, does it look like Tom Clements is coming back to continue working with JL10?

I haven't heard anything differently.

Edward from Appleton, WI

As someone who thoroughly enjoys and relishes the NFL season, I am concerned with the many "cracks in the shield" the league glosses over using high revenue and popularity as spackling paste. A gambling scandal represents a potentially existential threat, yet the NFL seemingly enthusiastically embraces it. How does the NFL prevent a gambling scandal, given the numerous players, coaches and officials that all need to be untainted? Given the money associated with gambling, it seems inevitable.

I would agree. There is no guarantee of prevention, and it's just a matter of time. How long? Anybody's guess.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Which division has won the most Super Bowls?

Going by the division each franchise currently resides in, the totals are as follows: NFC East 13, AFC East and AFC West nine each, AFC North eight, NFC West seven, NFC North five, NFC South four, AFC South two.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Mike and Wes, who had your all-time Packers Super Bowl performance(s)?

Max McGee, Desmond Howard, Antonio Freeman (in the loss), plus Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

What are you most looking forward to doing or not doing after the Super Bowl?

I'm skipping town at the end of the week when Wes gets back, so I'm looking forward to that. But I'm holding down the fort for a few days here in the meantime. Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.

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