Could the Kansas City Chiefs have three 1,000 yard receivers?
The Kansas City Chiefs have a talented young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and a trio of great pass catchers. Is having three 1000 yard receivers possible?
Kansas City Chiefs fans have high expectations for first time starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The perception is that he’s as talented as any young quarterback in the league and while the “gunslinger” moniker he has could lead to more mistakes many believe it could also lead to more big plays. The Chiefs already had two elite playmakers for Mahomes to throw to in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Then this offseason they added another big time talent in Sammy Watkins. So today’s question is if its possible/probable that the Chiefs could have three 1,000 yard receivers this season?
I started thinking about all of this after reading the following tweet from former Arrowhead Addict editor Matt Verderame:
Without doing much research (cough….any) I took a shot with the following response:
My little bit of thinking that went into this quick response was that Kelce will lead the way in receptions because the two outside weapons will open up the middle of the field. Early on in OTAs it looks like Watkins may be an immediate major factor in the offense so I had he and Hill with somewhat similar numbers with Watkins having a few more receptions and Hill having a few more yards.
Now, having already admitted I didn’t put a ton of research into my response I should also add that I’m neck deep in the Patrick Mahomes hysteria at this point. It’s not fair to him. It’s probably not realistic. I just can’t help myself. I’m super excited about this kid and am convinced he’s going to take the NFL by storm (even if there’s an occasional bump in the road here or there). We’ve debated Mahomes already a lot this offseason and we probably will continue to do so for the next several months. So let’s not make this post specifically about him. For the sake of the argument let’s assume that Patrick Mahomes is good this season and the offense does really well like a lot of Chiefs fans are hoping it will.
Even in those circumstances, is having three 1,000 yard receivers realistic?
After giving that some thought the last couple of days I did a little digging to see just how rare that would be. Turns out that only five teams in the history of the NFL have had a trio of 1,000 yard receivers in the same season. Those are:
1980 San Diego Chargers (Kellen Winslow, Wes Chandler, Charlie Joyner)
1989 Washington Redskins (Art Monk, Cary Clark, Ricky Sanders)
1995 Atlanta Falcons (Eric Metcalf, Terance Mathis, Bert Emanuel)
2004 Indianapolis Colts (Marivin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Stokley)
2008 Arizona Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston)
There were another ten teams in NFL history that had three guys with over 900 yards receiving. Four of those ten are relatively recent.
2012 Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Miles Austin)
2012 Atlanta Falcons (Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez)
2012 New Orleans Saints (Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham)
2014 New England Patriots (Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell)
If you look at those four teams plus the two most recent teams that had three 1,000 yard receivers you are basically looking at some of the most prolific offenses of the past 20 years. It is simply not realistic to expect an offense led by a first time starter to achieve that in his first season, even if he is great. You’ll notice you don’t see the great Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense on these lists and he’s about as good as any quarterback we’ve seen.
The first hurdle in the Chiefs achieving this rare feat is the amount of total passing yards the team would likely need to achieve it. If you take those six examples from above dating back to the 2004 Colts the average yards passing for the starting quarterback in those seasons was about 4,675 yards. Alex Smith had the best season of his career last year and threw for 4,042 yards. Expecting Mahomes to bypass his total by over 600 yards in his first season as a starter simply isn’t realistic.
The fewest yards passing by any of those six quarterbacks was Tom Brady in 2014 when he threw for 4,109 yards and missed having three 1,000 yard receivers by just 75 yards. I would say that Mahomes throwing for 4,100 yards is possible. With more arm talent and big play upside its conceivable that he could match Smith’s yardage totals even if he does make more mistakes along the way. However, if that’s the case the rest of the Chiefs supporting cast would be almost completely ignored.
Let’s say Mahomes passes for exactly 4,100 yards and Kelce, Hill, and Watkins meet my yardage predictions from my tweet above. That would only leave 850 combined yards for everyone else on the team.
Here are the receiving yard totals from the supporting cast last season (I omitted Albert Wilson because Watkins is essentially replacing him).
Kareem Hunt 455
Demetrious Harris 224
Demarcus Robinson 212
Chris Conley 175
Charcandrick West 150
De’Anthony Thomas 143
That’s a combined 1,359 yards. So if there’s only 850 yards to go around after the “Big 3” get their yards where are you subtracting 500 yards from in those totals? Chris Conley missed a lot of time last season so if anything his total should go up. Robinson is a young and developing receiver, do you see his play going down? Andy Reid’s offense always utilizes throwing to the running backs coming out of the backfield so it’s hard to see those numbers going down much either.
It’s just hard to make the numbers work. So unfortunately, I have to concede that my original prediction for the numbers that Kelce, Hill, and Watkins will put up were a little too lofty. I still think the Chiefs will have an incredibly potent offense and I still believe that Patrick Mahomes will have a great first year as the starter. It’s just unlikely that they will become the sixth team in NFL history to have three 1,000 yard receivers.
That’s okay, it will give them something to strive for in Mahomes second year as the starter, right?
So what do you think Chiefs fans? Is it completely unrealistic to think the Chiefs could have three 1,000 yard receivers or do you have that much faith in this offense already? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!