The once high expectations for Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe seemed to lowered a bit in the past year. Bowe’s exciting rookie season in which he had 995 yards and 5 touchdowns had the Arrowhead faithful believing that the Chiefs may finally have found the #1 receiver they had long been waiting for.
Bowe’s numbers improved in his 2nd season, which was somewhat amazing considering the QB carrousel that was turning in KC that year. Even though he had to catch passes from Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen and that receiver in the first Raiders game that Herm decided to put in at QB, Bowe’s numbers still improved. He caught 16 more balls in his sophomore campaign and broke the 1000-yard mark. He also snagged 7 TD passes. Sure, the kid was having some trouble with drops but most Chiefs fans were sure that would be corrected when Todd Halley was brought in as the head coach. Everyone though Bowe was heading for a breakout 3rd season.
You know what happened next. The Chiefs traded away Tony Gonzales, taking away the only other legitimate downfield threat aside from Bowe. They failed to add adequate help, making Bowe a double team on nearly every passing down. Haley rode Bowe hard, realizing he had potential but terrible technique. Bowe was knocked down the depth chart and was initially somewhat resistant to Haley’s methods.
Bowe eventually worked his way back up the depth chart but the Chiefs offense was riddled with problems. The team scrapped the offensive playbook 3 weeks before the season, Matt Cassel missed the first game due to injury, Larry Johnson could not run for more than 2 yards without falling down and there was a constant parade of 3rd tier receivers cycling through the offense, throwing off timing and chemistry for the entire unit.
And of course, Bowe continued to drop the football.
Then Chris Chambers arrived and the offense became a little more dynamic. With Chambers on the other side of the field Bowe had his 2nd and 3rd best games of the season in terms of receiving yards. Unfortunately, he was then suspended for 4 games for taking a diuretic in the preseason.
I have heard many around AA complaining that Bowe is a bust and should be cut or traded. I wholeheartedly disagree with these statements. Bowe is not a bust nor should the Chiefs release or trade him. He is the second best receiver on this Chiefs team and has more upside and potential than any of the other receivers.
An incredibly volatile rebuild process has marred Bowe’s time in KC. He started as a rookie on a veteran squad. Then suddenly Herm Edwatrds got rid of nearly every player over the age of 30 and tried to win in 2008 with a bunch of backup QB’s and rookies. Then the entire team was torn apart again with the arrival of Pioli and Haley. The best thing for young players in the NFL is stability and that is something Bowe has not had. Different coaches, different QB’s and different offensive schemes have not made it easy for the young receiver to develop smoothly.
I am not trying to make excuses for Bowe’s shortcomings. He needs to learn how to hold on to the ball no matter who is throwing it and he needs to run cleaner routes and use better technique.
Still, to declare Bowe a bust is simply inaccurate. Busts are not productive players. Bowe is a productive player. Is he living up to his draft stock? Maybe not. However, at the very least Bowe has proven he can be a very good #2 or #3 receiver in the NFL.
Drops aside, Bowe is one of the most talented players the Chiefs have on offense. He is also only 25 years of age and is entering his 4th season. He is also about to play under Charlie Weis who managed to make average receivers like Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch look better than they were. The sky is still the limit for Bowe.
The Chiefs have a young and talented receiver and rather than dump him because he isn’t perfect, they need to continue to develop him so that he can reach his full potential. The also need to continue to incorporate more talent into all areas of the offense so that immense amounts of pressure aren’t put on any one player. Football is a team sport, after all.
Until the Chiefs have 3 to 4 wide receivers on the roster that are younger and more talented than Dwayne Bowe, it would be absolutely foolhardy to get rid of him. Whether or not Bowe ever becomes a Pro Bowl receiver similar to Anquan Boldin, remains to be seen. That is going to be up to Bowe and how hard he wants to work to improve but the tools for success are there.
Dwayne Bowe is a good kid and a good player. If Chiefs fans are ready to give up on one of their only productive offensive players over the last 3 years then KC may not deserve a talented receiver at all.