Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has superstar potential, and many Kansas City fans are hoping for a big year from No. 82 now that offensive-minded head coach Andy Reid is running the team.
So far, that has not been the case this preseason though.
Bowe put up a stat line of straight zeros in Kansas City’s first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, and he was only targeted once against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn’t come away with a catch on that one target.
So two preseason games in and Kansas City’s star wideout has zero receptions. It’s only preseason, so there’s no use in overreacting that much, but it certainly is a stat worth noting if you’re a fan of the Chiefs.
There are a few reasons Bowe’s numbers are what they are at this point. One, he hasn’t played all that much, so naturally those numbers will be low.
More noticeably though, Alex Smith has been keying in on the tight ends and running backs in the passing game. He did try to get it over to Jon Baldwin three times last night, but Baldin came away with zero catches. As stated above, Smith did target Bowe once, but that target came up empty.
Now, why exactly is Smith not looking for Bowe more?
For once, it’s rather obvious that he feels most comfortable with tight end Anthony Fasano so far, and Fasanohas acted as a safety net of sorts for the Chiefs quarterback. The tight end caught three receptions for 22 yards last night at Arrowhead.
Second, Smith has been relying on checking down to the running backs. Jamaal Charles played a big role in the passing game against the Saints, and Knile Davis notched three receptions for 31 yards against the 49ers.
Why is Smith checking it down so much instead of going to Bowe?
Despite what some fans think, he really does have the arm. In fact, it may have to do more with the coverage. Specifically, the coverage over top of Bowe. Andy Reid discussed that after the game, per the Chiefs’ official press release:
Only one target for Dwayne Bowe, any reason for that?
“No, they rolled their coverage to them, the one we probably could have scored on there, that was an opportunity that we would have liked. But no, it’s not by design that he’s not getting the ball.”
Plainly speaking, the 49ers were essentially double-teaming or bracketing Bowe over the top. Because San Francisco wasn’t concerned about the receiver across from him, it was able to take presumably a safety, and keep him on top of Bowe’s routes.
The cornerback could sit on Bowe’s short routes and take those away, knowing that the safety was over the top taking away anything going deep.
Even if the 49ers weren’t playing those exact techniques, Reid made it rather obvious that San Francisco was focusing on taking Bowe out of the offense. No wonder Smith wasn’t throwing to him. He would essentially be setting himself up for an interception, and he’s too smart for that.
While that’s smart football from the quarterback, it does illuminate a glaring need for the Chiefs’ offense: a legitimate No. 2 wide receiver.
Baldwin is obviously not getting it done, and though it was reported that Donnie Avery may take over the No. 2 role, he only caught one pass on Friday night.
If defenses don’t feel the need to respect the opposite side of the field from Bowe, he’ll consistently be bracketed and defenses will always be looking to roll coverage over top of him. That means a smart quarterback like Smith will look for other options, and ultimately, the Chiefs best offensive player not named Jamaal Charles will be neutralized.
Andy Reid and his staff can’t let that happen.
Whether it be Baldwin, Avery, or even one of the tight ends who can step up and give the offense a different look, the Chiefs need to find a consistent receiver they can put across Bowe. Good defensive coordinators will be looking to take him away at all times possible, and Kansas City would be doing itself a huge disservice by making it easer for them.
Perhaps it’s somebody we’re not talking about deeper on the depth chart, or maybe it’s somebody not even on the roster right now. Maybe, just maybe, it’s Baldwin or Avery who find a way to step up and give the offense another deep threat.
Either way, the Chiefs need to find a legitimate No. 2 wideout, and they need to start getting that receiver the ball asap.