Every year, I feel like the NFL shouldn’t waste their time risking players getting hurt and risking their lives…because eventually it all comes back to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. And that’s because they’ve hosted FIVE consecutive AFC Championship games, made three Super Bowls and won two of them. But, this year may be different. Because we all thought Patrick Mahomes didn’t need wide receivers to succeed. But as we’ve seen with all three of their losses, receivers ability to catch the football has been the difference maker. And it’s also resulted in a lack of offensive production. This season may go different, because the Chiefs have a problem.
This whole theory that Mahomes didn’t need high quality receivers started last season, when after Kansas City traded Tyreek Hill to Miami, they won a Super Bowl with Travis Kelce and then JuJu Smith-Schuster as WR1. So from that point on, people thought Mahomes makes his receivers, not the other way around. And that theory hasn’t changed. But at some point, as we’ve seen this season, there is only so much a quarterback can do.
Kansas City rolled into 2023 with a WR combination of Sky Moore, Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Rashee Rice and Justin Watson. Some of those guys unproven in the league, and all of them definitely not WR1 caliber. But with Mahomes and Kelce to spread out the field, everybody including me wasn’t worried about Kansas City’s wide receivers. But after Toney dropped two key passes to lose Kansas City its first game on opening night, when Sky Moore muffed a punt that ended up losing them the game in Denver, and then just on Monday night when MVS dropped what would have been a game winning touchdown, it was obvious that theory can only go so far.
And this hasn’t just happened in certain moments. Kansas City wide receivers have been so bad across the board. The Chiefs have more than the second worst Jets with 26 drops this season, the most in the NFL. And it’s not like Mahomes has a had a wide receiver he can go to consistently. He obviously has Taylor Swift’s boyfriend, but at wide receiver, rookie Rashee Rice has more yards than all of his wide receiver teammates. Toney is a disaster, and has the lowest yards per reception mark of any wide receiver in the league. It got so bad that the Chiefs had to go trade back for Mecole Hardman, who in case you haven’t seen, hasn’t done a single thing in the receiving department.
But it gets worse. Because the running game hasn’t done anything good either. Isaiah Pacheco hasn’t been a great runner, and it’s gotten so bad that Patrick Mahomes is the teams second leading rusher. I wish I was kidding. So combine a wide receiver core that can catch with a rushing attack that adds no significant value, and you can maybe understand why Mahomes stats haven’t looked great.
In fact, it is very impressive Mahomes’ stats look like some of the best in the league STILL. Look at other great quarterbacks and how they’ve done without a quality WR1. Joe Burrow was bad. Josh Allen was horrific. Jalen Hurts was average at best. Tua had absolutely no clue how to throw for yards and touchdowns. And with the exception of Lamar Jackson, nobody has played at an MVP level without a WR1. And no one has done it like Mahomes come postseason time.
This has all resulted in an overall disgusting offensive meltdown. Travis Kelce isn’t playing at the same level because he’s been the only quality pass catcher on his team, and the defense has had to go nuclear for the Chiefs to get to the point where they hold tiebreaker for the number seed in the AFC. Because the offense has been awful.
The Chiefs offense this season ranks 14th in scoring, behind the likes of the Cleveland Browns, who have started three different quarterbacks and lost their starting running back for the season. But it’s mainly been because of the second half. The Chiefs have got off to great leads, but blown them due to just five second half touchdowns the entire season. That’s .5/game! Yikes. That suggests Kansas City probably scores between 4-7 points on average every second half. And it’s just gotten so bad as of late. Kansas City hasn’t scored a second half POINT since October 22nd. For those who don’t know, that was over a month ago, and it was against the disgraceful and dysfunctional Los Angeles Chargers defense.
To put into perspective how bad their second half play has been, they’re averaging just 5.3 points per game in the second half, the worst in the NFL. But their horrible play can compare to other horrible offensive teams in the past. Their 53 second half points through ten games is the third worst through ten games for all teams over the past decade, the only teams worse being the 2016 Cleveland Browns with 51, who were 0-10 in their first ten games, and the 2019 Miami Dolphins with an abysmal 37, and they were 2-8 in their first ten games. The Chiefs are awfully lucky to be 7-3 with their second half production.
Look, I don’t want to overreact. Because it looks like I am. But without pass catchers, it’s going to be really hard for Mahomes, Kelce and this defense to keep KC in games come postseason time, and actually score points in the second half to hold on to leads. And they need to execute. Kansas City is against 14th in scoring, but 8th in yardage. Again, I don’t want to overreact. Maybe these receivers start playing at maybe an average level, and it’s good enough to help Kansas City play consistent football in the second half. But if this continues, the AFC is wide open for other teams to take unlike previous years!
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Twitter: Chase Coburn (@coolsportskid)
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