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Time to Shrink the Chiefs Wide Receiver Rotation

With the bye week in full swing for the Kansas City Chiefs, the players are getting some much-needed time off and the coaches will get some rest as well, but they are already knee-deep in the Philadelphia Eagles game plan. However, within the loyal fan base, despite a 7-2 record, which is tops in the AFC, and a three-game lead in the AFC West, people continue to stress over the teams offensive woes. 

For me, Bye Weeks is an exercise in patience. It’s the first of three we will see this year from the Kansas City Chiefs. The first is now, the second comes after the Chiefs clinch the top spot in the AFC before hosting the divisional round in Kansas City in January, and the third comes between the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City and Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

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That means fans have idle time to nitpick their beloved team. The fact so many people are focused on the offense is quite humorous.  The Chiefs have the greatest quarterback in the NFL, Patrick Mahomes, the best head coach in the game in Andy Reid, and future hall-of-fame tight end, Travis Kelce.

They possess a veteran offensive line and a host of young receivers who are still learning their craft. Yes, they have shortcomings, but the level of angst thrown at them is baffling.

It can’t be in dispute, the Chiefs have some issues on offense, but does anyone believe they won’t solve the problem? The fact the learning curve for the offense continues to matriculate upward, the team keeps winning games.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Listen, I get the criticism laid at the feet of the Head Coach and the Offensive Coordinator for some questionable play calling, but these are Super Bowl-winning coaches.  They didn’t earn those rings being passive and unwilling to make changes in season.

It’s true Mahomes hasn’t been at his best this season. He’s made some poor decisions, turned the ball over too much, and not taken what the defense is giving him from snap to snap. He’s so used to throwing the ball down the field and making bigger plays out of nothing, that internally, patience is probably the most difficult aspect of his game.

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Mahomes is a magician, and no down or distance is going to deter him from believing he can make the big play. However, he can’t do it all by himself. That’s why he has ten other teammates on the field to ensure he gets the job done. 

The problem with KC’s offense is simple to fix.  

Reid and Matt Nagy must reduce the rotation of bodies at the wide receiver position. The struggle with this unit is because the personnel groupings vary rotating seven wide receivers from play to play. It makes it difficult for them to find any rhythm with the quarterback. That also applies to Mahomes. In fact, to drive the point home, name the last time this season, outside of Travis Kelce, Mahomes has thrown to a receiver on back-to-back snaps.

KC’s rotation should start and end with Justin Watson, Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore. That’s the future and the present. Sprinkle in Mecole Hardman and MVS, who continues to disappoint with his poor route running skills, and let Mahomes develop a groove with his primary receivers. Outside of his playoff performance against the Bengals last season, MVS and Mahomes are still not on the same page.

As we all witnessed Sunday, If Reid and Nagy constantly switch personnel, or expect Mahomes to bail them out when they do, the offense will remain convoluted and break down ending promising drives.

If you look at the Dolphins, who fell to the Chiefs 21-14 on Sunday, they feature Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, they stay in the game, get their reps, and have worked up a rapport with their quarterback – because they play back-to-back snaps and back-to-back series.

I get why Reid wants to develop all the receivers simultaneously. If there’s an injury, he wants the next man up to be ready.  As we saw in the AFC Title game a year ago, they lost three wide receivers, Toney, JuJu, and Hardman who succumbed to game-ending injuries. Thus, Mahomes had to rely on Marcus Kemp, the last receiver standing, to make a big catch in the game.

Yet with all this said, do we really have any doubts the trio of Reid, Nagy, and Mahomes won’t come out of the Bye Week having addressed these issues? Do we really believe they don’t see what all the other fan head coaches see as the core of their offensive woes?

So, my suggestion for the fans during the bye week is to root against some of the teams chasing the Chiefs on Sunday. Enjoy some family time all weekend or perhaps watch some great local College Football action on Saturday and stop worrying about the Chiefs offensive misfires to date.

Remember, this team has been to three Super Bowls in five years and won two of them. So, what if the third might not be so pretty? Do we really care how it gets done if we win the Super Bowl again?

Let’s just keep our eyes on the prize because the Chiefs are still the best team in the NFL, and that’s not going to change at any point this season, next season, or the year after that.

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