In reacquiring Mecole Hardman from the Jets yesterday for essentially scraps, Brett Veach addressed Kansas City's biggest problem and set the Chiefs up for massive success the rest of the season.
While the Chiefs' new offensive approach has come with some growing pains, one obvious weakness separates this iteration of the offense from previous ones: red zone efficiency.
Kansas City escaped the first six weeks with a 5-1 record atop the AFC, but Veach saw the warning signs and brought back the most effective red zone weapon the Chiefs have developed in recent years outside of Travis Kelce.
Here's how the Hardman trade fixes the Chiefs' biggest problem:
Mecole Hardman Fixes Chiefs' Pitiful Red Zone Performance
The Chiefs are having some problems in the red zone. Kansas City ranks 17th in red zone TD percentage (54.17%) after ranking second last season (71.08%), underscoring the issue we can all see with our eyes.
To drive the point home, here is the Chiefs' NFL rank in red zone TD percentage every year with Patrick Mahomes under center:
- 2018 - 2nd (73.08%)
- 2019 - 11th (60%)
- 2020 - 16th (58.9%)
- 2021 - 11th (62.2%)
- 2022 - 2nd (71.08%)
- 2023 - 17th (54.17%)
It's no coincidence the offense looks sluggish. Mahomes is completing only 50% of his red zone passes and the Chiefs aren't scoring in the red zone at their normal efficiency.
That's where Hardman comes into play. He scored 18 TDs over four seasons with the Chiefs and developed into a dynamite red zone weapon. Believe it or not, this isn't the first time Kansas City felt the impact of his absence.
Last season, Hardman caught eight-of-10 red zone targets for four TDs and added a rushing score as well. He was tied with Kelce in red zone targets (15) in 2021, catching eight of them for two TDs.
Hardman added another pair of red zone TDs on three targets in 2020. His rookie season was the only time Hardman didn't score in the red zone and his versatility and reliability when the field shrinks gave Mahomes a trusted receiver to depend on.
It appears Hardman will return kicks and punts for the Chiefs, but his biggest impact should be felt in the red zone. The gadget plays he perfected have been bungled by this year's squad, so I expect him to quickily get involved inside the 20-yard line.
Hardman's jubilation at his first practice back says it all. He'll get an opportunity to win another ring and Kansas City gets the solution to the problem that's plagued the offense all season.
For the cost of a couple of late picks? That's a massive win for Veach and Chiefs Kingdom.
DraftKings Sportsbook is celebrating Hardman's return by giving Chiefs fans an INSTANT $200 bonus! Sign up here, then deposit at least $10 and bet $5 or more on Chiefs vs. Chargers to instantly win $200 in bonus bets. Brett Veach won big with yesterday's trade and so should you - sign up for DraftKings now!
More Kansas City Chiefs News:
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.