Last year the Kansas City Chiefs were among the worst teams in the NFL in dropped passes. Something has to change.
The Kansas City Chiefs have to hope new wide receivers coach Greg Lewis can help with a problem. Specifically, the Chiefs could use help with dropped passes. Last season, the team had a total of 26 of them, good for fourth worst in the NFL and far behind the very best team in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys.
For some perspective, the Cowboys only had 8 dropped passes last year and the New York Jets led the league with 30 total. That means that the Chiefs had 18 times when a catch was made and someone dropped the ball more than the league’s best team. That’s a lot of missed opportunities at key moments, including first downs and touchdowns, for a Chiefs offense that can ill afford to not be as efficient as possible.
Last season, Alex Smith set high marks in his tenure with the Chiefs in throwing yards (3,502) and completion percentage (67.1%), but also threw more interceptions (8) than any other year in his four seasons with Kansas City. However those numbers would look a lot better without the 25 drops from his receivers. Out of every starting quarterback in the NFL in 2016, only Ryan Fitzpatrick had a worse drop percentage from his receivers. Smith’s receivers dropped 5.1% of his throws on the year.
The biggest culprits on the Chiefs offense actually can be found at tight end as both Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris had six dropped passes. For Kelce, it’s definitely something to work on, but his drop percentage of 5.1% isn’t that much worse than several of his peers like Jimmy Graham (4.2%), Gary Barnidge (4.9%), Antonio Gates (4.3%) or Jared Cook (3.9%). Demetrius Harris, however, is another issue entirely.
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Harris dropped an incredible six passes when he only had 17 catches on the entire season. His drop percentage of 19.4%. No other player with 30-plus targets in the NFL was within 5 percentage points of that total. If you apply his drop percentage to Travis Kelce’s productivity, as if Harris was a top target for the offense, Harris would have had 16.5 drops last season, almost double Michael Crabtree’s league-leading total of 9. In addition to the legal issues faced by Harris this offseason, the amount of drops simply has to change. Perhaps that’s why Gavin Escobar is on the roster.
As for the receivers, the steadiest man has been released in Jeremy Maclin, who had a single drop among his 44 catches. Albert Wilson is the biggest offender among the wideouts with 3, good for a drop percentage of 5.9%. Chris Conley had the same amount of drops but had 13 more catches, giving him a drop percentage of 4.4%. The best of the remaining receivers is, fortunately, Tyreek Hill who had only 2 drops on 61 catches (2.4%).
While the percentages of Wilson and Kelce are just a tad high, the reality is the Chiefs need to definitely make sure Harris is making ball security a point of emphasis—and it wouldn’t hurt the entire team to focus on this as well. As smart as the Chiefs play, making mental mistakes like dropping passes at a rate near the league worst is simply not acceptable, especially given the pressure on the offense to be efficient.
With another year of Smith at the helm, Reid’s staff needs to remedy this problem if the Chiefs want to maximize their chances for success in 2017.