1. Top-end Wide Receiver
There is no question the Chiefs’ worst position group this season was at wide receiver. Finding a receiver after Dwayne Bowe, any receiver, who could be deemed as having a “good” or even “average” season was tough to find.And it wasn’t like Bowe was amazing this year, either. His +4.7 Pro Football Focus grade, admittedly the best on the team, was built entirely on his blocking abilities on the outside in the running game.
To further the point about how bad the Chiefs wide receivers were, none – NONE – of Kansas City’s receivers who played at least 100 snaps had a receiving grade above -0.3.
Receivers “Pass” Grade (min. 100 snaps)
Basically, catching passes was really hard for the Chiefs this season.
However, while his grade is not very high, Kansas City still has something in Bowe. Things are not made easy when the Chiefs primary receiver isn’t being used often in games. In the first eight games of the year, Bowe was targeted just 44 times, or 5.5 times per game. Bowe caught 26 of those passes for 302 yards, two touchdowns and one drop.
In the second half of the season, the Chiefs finally figured out a way to get Bowe the ball, but it required them to use him in a way he is not used to playing. Andy Reid decided to use short routes over the middle of the field to help get Bowe open, but that is not Bowe’s strength. Bowe is a mid-level receivers who likes to use his size to make smaller defensive backs miss. Numbers help reflect this notion.
As you can see, when Bowe is targeted inside of 10 yards, he’s more prone to mistakes. The lone interception he allowed was over the middle inside of 10 yards, and five of his eight drops this season came on passes under 10 yards. But if you get Bowe beyond the first down marker in medium range, he’s very good.
The problem was getting Bowe in those medium range routes without being triple-covered. He was covered that well because Donnie Avery was useless as the Chiefs number two option at wide receiver. Of the nine areas of the field where Avery was targeted, seven of them left the quarterback with a QB rating of 71.1 or lower, and three of them were below 40. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Avery has a PFF grade of -8.8. Only Jeff Allen and Eric Fisher had worse cumulative grades than Avery.
The lack of a viable second wide receiver next to Bowe made getting Bowe open that much harder. Opponents could essentially leave one defender on Avery and not worry about him for the rest of the game. And if that is what the opponents were doing with the team’s second best wide receiver then … well let’s not think about that much longer.
All of this is to say the Chiefs need to find a guy who can command attention on the opposite side of Bowe. And the good news is that there are plenty of options for the Chiefs to find this guy.