By Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports activities NFL Author
Andy Reid waved a dismissive hand when requested concerning the criticism leveled at Patrick Mahomes by former Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, who claimed he didn’t get the ball sufficient final season.
Sure, that’s the identical Hill who completed with a career-high 111 receptions for 1,239 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns in his closing season in Kansas Metropolis.
“I like Tyreek,” Reid mentioned. “He’s a very good child. We expect the world of him.”
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Mahomes supplied extra deflection when requested about Hill’s claims that his new quarterback in Miami, Tua Tagovailoa, is extra correct than the one who helped him earn a Tremendous Bowl ring.
“I’m certain it had one thing to do with attempting to offer his podcast some stuff and get it rolling,” Mahomes joked. “Positively, I nonetheless love Tyreek. He’s a one-of-a-kind participant.”
Reid and Mahomes aren’t dwelling on the previous as a result of Hill is gone, they usually should spend their time this offseason recreating what was certainly one of most explosive and dynamic offenses within the NFL with out the providers of certainly one of their finest playmakers.
What Mahomes can lean on is Reid’s historical past of being the chief of among the finest offenses within the league. However with out Hill, the Chiefs should do it otherwise.
“In Coach Reid’s offense, it takes the entire crew,” Mahomes mentioned. “This offense was rolling earlier than I bought right here. This offense was rolling after I was a younger Cowboys fan watching the Eagles beat up on the Cowboys. So it’s an offense that’s a couple of participant, and that features myself.”
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Listed here are 3 ways the Chiefs can preserve their offense rolling within the post-Hill period.
1. Don’t get uninterested in brief completions.
First off, let’s not get it twisted. The Chiefs completed third in whole offense (396.8 yards per sport) and fourth in factors per sport (28) final season. Mahomes & Co. moved the ball.
Nevertheless, opposing defenses did a greater job of slowing them down, notably the Cincinnati Bengals within the second half of their 27-24 extra time victory within the AFC Championship Recreation.
These groups took a web page out of the defensive playbook of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles. In his crew’s win over the Chiefs within the Tremendous Bowl two years in the past, Bowles employed two-high-safety appears to maintain Kansas Metropolis’s electrical playmakers from getting deep and creating explosive performs.
The Chiefs completed eleventh within the NFL with 58 passing performs of 20-plus yards in 2021. That’s the primary time since 2017, when Alex Smith was the beginning quarterback, that the Chiefs didn’t end within the high 10 within the league in that class.
In response to Subsequent Gen Stats, the Chiefs noticed two-high-safety appears a league-high 66.2% of the time final season. Within the AFC title sport, that quantity climbed to 69% as Kansas Metropolis failed to carry on to a 21-3 halftime lead towards Cincinnati.
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“That second half I performed, I actually didn’t play good soccer in any respect,” Mahomes mentioned. “It’s in all probability the worst playoff soccer I in all probability performed within the second half of that sport. I’m simply attempting to make use of that as a studying factor, that each time I’m struggling or the crew’s struggling, simply discover a option to get constructive performs. As a result of when you’ve a lead like that, you don’t need to lose that lead.”
Mahomes went on to say that he should be higher at taking what the protection is giving him. The adjustment for the Chiefs this offseason was so as to add extra big-body receivers equivalent to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling by means of free company — together with undrafted rookie signee Justyn Ross out of Clemson — to win in the course of the sphere, shifting the main target to polished route runners who create separation.
“I like the blokes we’ve introduced in,” Reid instructed reporters final week, “they’ve a really feel for area. I’m all the time fearful about that just a little bit. They did a pleasant job with it. This camp is all passing. We don’t run the ball. So it offers you a good suggestion within the go sport what the blokes are able to, and I preferred it. We simply want extra reps.”
To assist develop higher chemistry, Mahomes invited his new pass-catching group to Texas earlier than the crew’s offseason program started and plans to do the identical factor earlier than the beginning of coaching camp this summer season.
“We’ll have some guys down there,” Mahomes instructed reporters final week. “Fortunate sufficient, a few of these guys already dwell in Texas. And we’ll be understanding, throwing. You don’t need to do an excessive amount of, clearly, going into coaching camp. However we’re attempting to maintain everyone contemporary and dealing.”
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2. Run the soccer.
Reid’s offense has by no means been identified for a run-first strategy. Nevertheless, he has had proficient runners up to now that created stability, together with LeSean McCoy, Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook and Kareem Hunt.
With defenses involved about giving up large performs within the passing sport, the Chiefs ought to use that to their benefit and switch to the working sport extra.
Final season, the Chiefs averaged 4.54 yards per carry, good for seventh within the NFL. Nevertheless, Kansas Metropolis totaled simply 116 speeding yards per contest, sixteenth within the league. Additional, the Chiefs’ 431 carries had been twentieth within the NFL final season.
Mahomes is among the higher play-action passers within the sport. He completed 118-for-174 (67.8%) on play-action throws, totaling 1,174 passing yards, with 17 touchdowns and 4 interceptions final season, per Subsequent Gen Stats. Mahomes had a 109.7 passer ranking on play-action passes.
One other means for the Chiefs to create extra chunk performs is to run the soccer extra, creating deep pictures for the crew’s greater receivers within the play-action sport.
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To that finish, Reid beefed up his working again room this yr, signing Ronald Jones II in free company, bringing again Jerick McKinnon and deciding on Rutgers product Isaih Pacheco within the seventh spherical of the draft. They be a part of starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Derrick Gore in what must be a crowded competitors in coaching camp.
“You possibly can’t have sufficient working backs,” Reid instructed reporters. “Significantly skilled ones. … I believe [Chiefs GM] Brett [Veach] has performed a pleasant job of simply bringing in competitors. And that can assist us down the highway changing into a greater soccer crew.”
3. Unfold the wealth.
Tight finish Travis Kelce and Hill accounted for almost 50% of Kansas Metropolis’s receptions final season and have acquired the majority of the targets for the Chiefs since 2016.
That may change with Hill gone. Kelce stays one the perfect tight ends within the NFL and can proceed to be a mainstay within the offense. Mecole Hardman, who has an analogous talent set to Hill’s, ought to see an uptick in targets, together with new receivers Smith-Shuster and Valdes-Scantling.
For Reid, it must be a return to a extra conventional West Coast offense by way of spreading the ball round to completely different pass-catchers and never permitting defenses to zero in on simply two dominant ones.
“What you’re going to see from this offense this yr is it’s going to be everyone,” Mahomes instructed reporters final month. “It’s not going to be only one man. Clearly, Travis remains to be going to get lots of completions and lots of yards. And I believe the entire receiving room goes to have large performs. And that may be one thing we are able to use to our benefit.”
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for greater than a decade, overlaying the Los Angeles Rams for Sports activities Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma Information Tribune. Comply with him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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