Analysis: Winning another Super Bowl without Tyreek Hill won’t be easy for Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
Coach Andy Reid figured out his franchise quarterback needed a true No. 1 wide receiver after five seasons as a head coach and three straight losses in the NFC championship game.
Now, Patrick Mahomes knows what Donovan McNabb went through in Philadelphia.
McNabb’s top wide receivers in his first five seasons were Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. When the Eagles acquired Terrell Owens in 2004, McNabb had his best season and the team reached the Super Bowl.
Reid, Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have won two Super Bowls together, including one last year without Tyreek Hill. But it’ll be hard for them to win another one without a dependable receiver other than tight end Travis Kelce.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped what should’ve been a go-ahead 51-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter and Justin Watson couldn’t catch a fourth-and-25 pass that went through his hands to seal Kansas City’s 21-17 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night.
After seeing Owens’ impact on McNabb and the Eagles, Reid began to prioritize wide receivers. He drafted DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in Philly, brought Maclin to Kansas City and hit a home run on Hill in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft.
But the Chiefs (7-3) didn’t replace Hill after trading the All-Pro receiver to Miami before last season and they went on to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl anyway. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the wide receivers with 78 catches for 933 yards while Kelce had 110 catches for 1,338 yards.
Smith-Schuster left in free agency and Kansas City selected Rashee Rice in the second round of the draft to help fill the void this season. Rice leads the wide receivers with 36 receptions for 420 yards through 10 games. He wasn’t much of a factor on Monday, catching four balls for 42 yards. Watson had five receptions on 11 targets for 53 yards and one TD. Valdes-Scantling had no catches on three targets, including the costly drop.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 26 drops this season. They have the fewest second-half points in the league, including zero in the past three games.
Of course, it’s not all on the receivers. They had two turnovers –Mahomes’ interception and Kelce’s fumble — in the red zone against Philadelphia.
The Chiefs already have as many losses as last season when they won their seventh straight AFC West title and hosted the conference title game for the fifth consecutive year. They’ve got a much-improved defense that will help overcome the offense’s deficiencies, but Mahomes needs a reliable outside threat to catch the deep ball and make big plays.
The Chiefs visit the Las Vegas Raiders (5-6) on Sunday after falling a half-game behind Baltimore for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.