Chiefs hoping for chemistry between Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin


We are inching closer to the NFL draft and a position that needs to be addressed eventually is wide receiver. In March, the Kansas City Chiefs added a high-profile receiver in Jeremy Maclin. The problem is we are still in the same position as last season because we still don’t have a solid second receiver.

Maclin can do things that Dwayne Bowe could not. With his speed, Maclin can stretch the field and get separation from defenders, but without another threat, defenses will double-team him. Alex Smith will continually be forced to dump the ball off to Jamaal Charles or look to Travis Kelce to make more plays.

I’m curious to see what kind of chemistry we can expect to see from Smith in the first year with his new toy. It’s rare that a team picks up their top receiver through free agency, but let’s look at a few recent examples.

Jan 31, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on the red carpet prior to the NFL Honors award ceremony at Symphony Hall. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up Vincent Jackson, a former Pro Bowler for the San Diego Chargers. Jackson left a good football club for a bad one with more money to offer. The Buccaneers had Josh Freeman at the helm, and after adding the Pro Bowl receiver, the offense did improve.

Tampa Bay previously went 4-12 in their 2011 campaign and improved to 7-9 after adding Jackson to its team. In Freeman’s first year throwing to Jackson, the team went from averaging 18 points a game to 24 points/game, ranking 13th in the league. Freeman eclipsed 4,000 yards his first year with Jackson, who contributed 1,384 yards. Freeman also improved his touchdown-to-interception ratio from 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions to 27:17

In 2013, the Miami Dolphins picked up Mike Wallace in free agency to improve their struggling offense. Miami had previously averaged 18 points per game, ranking 27th in the league. After adding the speedster, the Dolphins only increased their scoring average by one point.

Ryan Tannehill did see a spike in his stats going from less than 3,300 yards the prior year to 3,913 yards. The former Texas A&M star also jumped from 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions to 24 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Wallace contributed to 930 yards and five touchdowns of the Miami’s offense for the year. In this case the team didn’t benefit from the free-agent move as they expected. Wallace brought in a decent amount of yards but didn’t score nearly enough.

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Also in 2013, the San Francisco 49ers traded for a top receiver in Anquan Boldin. This example is different from the other two because it was a trade, not free agency. Boldin caught 85 balls for 1,179 yards and seven touchdowns in his first year with Colin Kaepernick. Here’s the most interesting part though: the team went 12-4 and Kaepernick only threw for 3,200 yards, resulting in 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

What we can gather from these examples:

1. As we saw in Tampa Bay, good stats aren’t always equivalent to producing wins. Jackson produced but the team was held captive by Freeman’s poor decisions in critical situations. So Smith’s play will be equally important in Maclin’s contribution to the team.

2. A great second receiver does not always translate to being a good first option. We could come to the same painful realization that Maclin may not be a top receiver, so it’s critical the Chiefs bring in another weapon to compete.

3. The 49ers showed that you can add a good receiver and not always have to have a solid second receiver to be successful. The team had a great defense and Kaepernick wasn’t asked to throw for 5,000 yards. If you have a great tight end, he can serve in the same way a good secondary receiver would. This gives hope that Maclin and Kelce could be enough for the offense to succeed.

I’ll leave you with this, Addicts. Last year, Smith threw for 3,265 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions. Kelce led receivers with 862 yards and five touchdowns. Dwayne Bowe was our top receiver and produced 754 yards with zero touchdowns. How do you foresee Smith’s first year going with Maclin? What will Maclin’s impact be compared to the aforementioned examples?