The 2019-2020 Chiefs season has come to an end and it could not have ended any better. The Kansas City Chiefs are the champions of Superbowl LIV. It doesn’t feel real, does it? It is amazing that this group of players and coaches were able to overcome all of the adversity and shortcomings to become world champions. Whether it was the uncertainty of the defense early in the season or the severity of Patrick Mahomes’ kneecap, the Chiefs were able to persevere and complete the ultimate goal that was set out for them in training camp by Clark Hunt. Clark knew that winning his dad’s trophy would be great but it wasn’t the trophy he was after. He wanted the Lombardi and that’s exactly what he got. It took a lot of great performances from his players, though. Performances that can’t go unnoticed. Here are the first-annual Arrowhead Live Awards.
Most Valuable Player – Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes didn’t have the breakout numbers that he had in 2018 due mostly to injury. However, most people would say that he became a better player this season. The fact that he had to overcome the injuries and the defenses that now had tape on him, showed that he could adapt to any situation. This was exactly the case in the Superbowl. For three and a half quarters, Mahomes was off his game. He threw two interceptions and was failing to find open receivers. The 49ers were getting constant pressure with just their front four, allowing their secondary to maintain their coverage against the Chiefs speedy receivers. It looked like what was a promising season for the Chiefs would fall just short. Then Mahomes proved why he is the best quarterback in the league. When he had to be great, he was. The 3rd and 15 pass to Tyreek Hill was a thing of beauty and the pass to Sammy Watkins down the sideline on the next drive was equally as good. Just like he had done in the previous playoff games, he faced adversity, flipped the switch, and dominated.
Offensive Player of the Year – Travis Kelce
This award could’ve easily gone to Mahomes but we’ll choose Travis Kelce just to keep it from being repetitive. Plus after that speech at the parade, we have to give him some kind of credit. I might get “5 5 and he ain’t offsides” tattooed on me somewhere. But in all seriousness, Travis Kelce was a beast all season and when the Chiefs had to make a play, Kelce was usually the one to do it. Even with an amazing regular season (97 catches, 1,229 yards, and five touchdowns), his greatest performance was in the divisional round game against the Texans. After falling down 24-0, Travis Kelce (along with Patrick Mahomes) put the team on his back and tallied 134 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second half. The Texans had no way to stop him. He also had a critical touchdown in the Superbowl that helped the Chiefs to close the gap on the 49ers.
Defensive Player of the Year – Tyrann Mathieu
Tyrann Mathieu has become one of the greatest free-agent signings in franchise history. Much like the entire defense, Mathieu didn’t get off to the fastest start, but as the season went on you could quickly see why he was signed. He led the team in tackles (63), passes defended (12), and interceptions (4). Stats, though, weren’t the only thing that the Honey Badger brought to this defense. His leadership qualities were second to none and his ability to hold players accountable was intrumental to the team’s success. The way that he has been a key piece to the resurrection of the Chiefs defense, it’s no wonder that he was in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year conversation.
Offensive Rookie of the Year – Mecole Hardman
When the Chiefs drafted Mecole Hardman, his role in the offense was unclear. At the time the status of star receiver Tyreek Hill had not been determined, as he was suspended from team activities at the time. However, Hill was cleared to rejoin the team. There was the thought that maybe Hardman would be a project player that could become more of an asset for next year, kind of like a redshirt player in college. That ended up not being the case. Hardman may not have had the number of receptions that the other receiving options had this season, but when he did get his number called, there was a good chance he would take it to the house. Of his 26 receptions, seven of them went for over 30 yards. He averaged over 20 yards per catch and caught six touchdowns.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Juan Thornhill
Juan Thornhill was a breakout star from the beginning. Starting every game in the regular season, he was able to catch three interceptions with one of them going back for six. He also defended five passes and made 41 tackles. As the season progressed, so did Thornhill. He and Mathieu were quickly becoming one of the top safety tandems in the league. However, Thornhill was unable to continue his solid play into the playoffs, as he tore his ACL in the final game of the regular season. The way his rookie campaign ended wasn’t what Thornhill wanted but the future is still bright for many seasons to come.
Comeback Player of the Year – Dan Sorensen
Dirty Dan came back in a big way for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. Last year, Sorensen missed 9 games due to a tibial plateau fracture he suffered at the beginning of the season. This season, especially in the playoffs, he was very critical in big moments for the defense. He may have possibly made the play that saved the season in the divisional round of the playoffs. On a 4th down punting situation, the Texans tried a fake punt with a direct snap to Justin Reid. It appeared that Reid would have an easy path to a first down, but Sorensen sniffed it out and made an amazing open field tackle short of the marker. “That’s my responsibility,” Sorensen said. “I’m almost like a linebacker back there. I’m just looking for something like that. And when I see it, I’ve got to respond and react to it.” He also made a game-sealing interception in the Mexico City game against the Chargers, preventing a Phillip Rivers comeback.
Clutch Player of the Year – Damien Williams
All Damien Williams does is score touchdowns in the playoffs. Whether it’s a pass out in the flat or just a carry up the middle, Williams has the ability to take it to the house when it matters most. In the divisional game comeback, Williams accounted for three touchdowns. He also had one in the AFC Championship game to help extend the lead to two scores. Then in the Super Bowl, he added one score to take the lead and one score to put the game away. There were several mentions that Williams should’ve been the MVP of the Super Bowl instead of Mahomes. He ended the game with 17 carries for 104 yards, four receptions for 29 yards, and two total touchdowns. For the playoffs, he had 46 carries for 196 yards, 11 receptions for 94 yards, and six total touchdowns.
Coach of the Year – Andy Reid & Steve Spagnuolo
We had to do co-recipients on this one because first of all, how do you not give it to Andy Reid? He has waited for this day for 21 years. As Travis Kelce put it, “It’s been turnin!” Reid has been the intricate force behind Patrick Mahomes and this offense, and he has constantly produced results since he’s been in Kansas City. Andy Reid deserves this more than anyone. And second of all, how do you not give it to Steve Spagnuolo? Do you remember Bob Sutton? I don’t because I’ve blocked him from my memory. Spags came into a defense that, even though they were bad, was only a penalty away from the Super Bowl and decided that he was gonna start from scratch, completely overhauling everything. With the help of Brett Veach and Andy Reid, he brought in Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, and he got rid of Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Eric Berry. He implemented a 4-3 system and when things started off kind of slow, he still got the entire team to buy into what he was selling. It certainly paid dividends and now this defense went from being the reason the Chiefs couldn’t do it, to the reason they did do it.