Dwayne Bowe: Former Chiefs Wideout Wasn’t The Guy Many Made Him Out To Be


Original Photo: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

Say what you want about Dwayne Bowe (preferably not in caps lock), but during his stint with the Kansas City Chiefs, the man did a lot with a little. Very, very little.

Consider this: Before Andy Reid, Alex Smith and Co. came to town, these were the quarterbacks (with a minimum of 100 attempts) whom Bowe played with: Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn.

Rewind, read that list again and play a round of word association. I’ll start: prayer, Bieber, Wendy’s, “NOOO,” who(?), [bleep].

Let’s take it a step further. Since 2007, the year that Bowe was drafted, no other wide receiver has caught more than five touchdowns for the Chiefs. The club’s second-leading wideout throughout that span is now a running back.

1Dwayne Bowe20072014KAN118112947532715513.454460.656.2
2Jamaal Charles20082014KAN956437626222668.651923.969.7
3Dexter McCluster20102013KAN582326317215008.72525.965.4
4Steve Breaston20112012KAN26171136885912.63233.060.2
5Chris Chambers20092010KAN22161045882114.16537.355.8
6Donnie Avery20132014KAN2217975577214.04235.156.7
7Mark Bradley20082009KAN23141195470012.96530.445.4
8Jonathan Baldwin20112012KAN2610994157914.12222.341.4
9Terrance Copper20092012KAN627583841811.0006.765.5
10Bobby Wade20092009KAN126743636710.19230.648.6

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table

Also, contrary to popular belief, Reid’s system isn’t a godsend for receivers. Throughout 14 years in Philadelphia, the offense spawned four 1,000-yard seasons (Terrell Owens, DeSean Jackson [twice] and Kevin Curtis).

Pinning Bowe’s decline on one person or thing is dumbing it down—football’s more complex than a stat sheet.

For example, outside of 2009, the past two seasons have doubled as career lows in targets for No. 82. Is that because Smith didn’t know Bowe was his best receiver? Doubt it. He’s a conservative quarterback in a West Coast offense. (Plus, ya know, there was that whole can’t-make-a-five-step-drop-without-dodging-a-human-avalanche thing.)

On the other hand, prior to Smith’s arrival, Cassel would try to fling it to Bowe through a peephole. As a result, the star’s statistics soared, but as a whole, the passing game struck as much fear as Seacrest’s prom pictures. In the wideout’s best season (2010), the Chiefs ranked 30th in passing offense.

Furthermore, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if 1,000 yards is the yardstick for success, then Maclin, relative to his time with Reid, fell short as well.

At the end of the day, there’s no denying that Bowe was overpaid. Let’s not act like he was Bobby Wade, though. (If you think Bowe and Donnie Avery are equals, your house should be childproofed.)

Original Photo: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports

Yes, he served a one-game suspension for an off-field case involving marijuana. Tamba Hali did the same (and Justin Houston tested positive for it prior to the draft).

Yes, every now and again, he pointed to the name on the back of his jersey. And every now and again, Priest Holmes eyed defenders while casually strutting into the end zone.

Yes, he had drops. In 2012, Donnie Avery, among wideouts who played in 50 percent of snaps, had the highest drop percentage in the NFL; Maclin was eight slots behind him. (Also, five of Kansas City’s wideouts had a higher drop rate than Bowe last year, despite the fact that he entered the season with a finger that had been dislocated roughly 15 times.)

And finally, yes, he had a bloated contract. Remember, though, it was structured in a way that Bowe’s cap hit was only $4 million in the year (2013) that he signed it, similar to Maclin’s deal ($3.4 million).

So, honestly, what about Bowe rubbed so many pitchfork-waving protestors the wrong way? And what about the aforementioned stars granted them get-out-of-jail-free cards?

In the past five years, I can’t name another player who had more tweets, videos and Vines showing them connecting with Chiefs fans. And yet, within that same amount of time and fanbase, I can’t name another who was more polarizing.

In the span of eight seasons, Bowe became the second-most decorated receiver in franchise history, despite never having a respectable No. 2 receiver or, prior to the last two seasons, quarterback.

Somehow, for a sizable chunk of the fanbase, that wasn’t enough. And nothing ever was.

Reeling in eight receptions, 150 yards and a touchdown in the 2013 wild card? “STEPPED ON THE SIDELINE!”

He didn’t cry about his lack of targets in Andy Reid’s system. He did as much “blue-collared” dirty work (i.e. blocking) as any star wideout in the league. He elicited nothing but glowing endorsements from coaches and teammates.

For a certain fraction of fans, though, Bowe was always the villain. But in hindsight, given the teams that he played on, the former Chiefs wideout was, if anything, the opposite. He just never had a sidekick.

Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference and Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Contract information provided by Spotrac.  

Next: Grading The Chiefs' Offseason

More from Arrowhead Addict