Who will receive the most love from Patrick Mahomes this year?
Chiefs Focus @ChiefsFocus Jake White @JakeWhite58
When the Kansas City Chiefs traded away all-world talent Tyreek Hill last month there was a vacuum left at the WR1 position. The Chiefs had recently signed slot receiver extraordinaire Juju Smith Schuster from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and after the trade signed speedy talent Marquez-Valdes Scantling from the Green Bay Packers. They also have another speedy receiver in 3rd year talent Mecole Hardman.
So, who is replacing Tyreek?
The answer in short is no one. You can’t replace that amount of talent that Tyreek Hill brought to the team. From the Hill-Mary to the plays he made against Buffalo in last year’s Divisional Playoff round. That amount of talent is impossible to replace… in one person.
I think the plan to replace Tyreek is WR by committee. What does that mean? Wide receivers are already by committee when you have 3-5 on the field at one time.
True but Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes has always had WR1-Tyreek Hill who is so dangerous they stopped blitzing and hampered Mahomes’ ability to make the big play. That left everyone underneath, which is future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce’s domain.
In the second half of last season, we saw a massive shift in the Chiefs’ philosophy. Gone were the deep throws to Tyreek, and instead we saw the more intermediate passes, dink-and-dunks, and dump-off throws. Teams stopped blitzing Patrick Mahomes and played a Cover-2 shell. “You can beat us short, but you won’t beat us deep” mentality. Thankfully, Head Coach Andy Reid and Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy made the shift and the Chiefs offense got rolling again. More intermediate throws and more short throws and we started “matriculating” the ball down the field.
This leads to the point of this article, I think the Chiefs will be without a WR1 and will force defenses to cover everyone. Imagine if the Chiefs had three Sammy Watkins in 2019? Defenses would have been in panic mode because any of those guys would be open. That’s what the Chiefs have, two-speed guys in MVS and Hardman who can play all the gadgets Bieniemy and Reid love to use, and two sure-fire middle-of-the-field guys in Kelce and Smith-Schuster.
Add in that Mecole is in his fourth year in this system, coming off a career year (59 receptions/693 yards), and going into a possible contract year. We can see what experience in the Andy Reid system can do. Tyreek went from a glorified return man to a top 3 receiver in this league. Comfort with Patrick Mahomes is another factor. He does things we have never seen before, and seen him have an unspoken connection with receivers; will that deepen this year with Mecole? I think so.
Juju is coming off a down year where he was hurt and a non-factor for the Steelers. He finally has a chance to play with a QB that is not only in his prime, but one of the best in the game right now. Will Juju, who had an outstanding start to his career before last season, show that he is the stud he was before? This opportunity can be a career-maker for Juju on a one year contract in KC and this system will show off his talents and allow the Chiefs to improve on the adjustments made last year.
MVS is coming from one Hall of Famer to another. Aaron Rodgers to Patrick Mahomes is a receiver’s dream swap. Unlike some receivers that go from Lambos to 2001 Honda Civics, MVS is going from Ferrari to Lambo. Add in his talent, as an over-the-top and as a speed receiver, his talent should continue to grow in the Chiefs’ offensive juggernaut. When teams take for granted that Tyreek is on the field, or that the defense’s best defenders are covering Juju, Mecole, and Travis, watch for MVS to be streaking over the top.
Josh Gordon re-signed with the Chiefs this offseason. And while after last season that may not sound like a big deal, I cannot express how much familiarity in the Andy Reid system can breed success for players. A whole year for Josh Gordon and the talent we all know he possesses can lead to greatness. I am not expecting 2013 (9 years ago) numbers, but if he can be a threat to defenses like we expect, that’s another weapon in the Mahomes arsenal.
I did not mention Travis Kelce explicitly for a reason. He is the first choice for Patrick Mahomes. And for good reason. Look back last year and when we needed a play if the ball didn’t go to Kelce, he was still somehow involved. His football IQ and relationship with Mahomes will help get the other receivers up to speed. Travis Kelce doesn’t need explaining because he is Travis Kelce and that is the explanation.
The Chiefs will address the position in the draft or trade for a veteran WR before the season begins. But I think the position will be addressed in a unique way that will allow Patrick to take advantage of the onslaught. Overall, the Chiefs’ offense is getting deeper and possibly more exciting.