Hollywood Brown and Xavier Worthy will expand the Chiefs' offensive potential

The Chiefs have renovated their wide receiver room this offseason, adding veteran Marquise "Hollywood" Brown in free agency and Xavier Worthy via the draft.
Texas Longhorns wide receivers Adonai Mitchell (5) and Xavier Worthy (1) celebrate a touchdown by
Texas Longhorns wide receivers Adonai Mitchell (5) and Xavier Worthy (1) celebrate a touchdown by / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /

We all saw this coming, right?

After the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in January 2019, general manager Brett Veach purged the defense and started over. When the Chiefs lost Super Bowl LV to the Buccaneers in January of 2021, Veach responded by blowing up the offensive line. Is it any surprise the Chiefs have added two blazing deep threats in the spring of 2024?

Sure, the Chiefs won Super Bowl LVIII, but most would say that win was in spite of the team's wide receiver corps, which was an abomination by the standards of any playoff contender. Kansas City now has added Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and first-round pick Xavier Worthy to the top of a depth chart that also includes Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, and a handful of others who are hopeful to make the roster.

So what went wrong in 2023 that is getting rectified?

In 2023, head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Matt Nagy schemed around their weakness at wide receiver by stretching the field horizontally. Rice and Toney ranked as two of the three lowest wide receivers in the NFL in terms of their average depth of target (ADOT). For those of you who just learned what that stat is, that means they were often very close to the line of scrimmage when targeted. And we saw that especially with Rice as the season went on. In fact, the rookie's ADOT was under 2.0 in playoff wins against the Bills and 49ers.

Rice's 4.8 ADOT ranked 115th out of 117 wide receivers in 2023, and Toney came in dead last among wide receivers at 117th with an average depth of just 2.9 yards every time he was targeted.

A little dive into this statistic proved humorous to me. Even if you combine the ADOT of both players , you still get less than that of Colts tight end Kylen Granson, who was targeted 50 times. Have you heard of Kylen Granson? Neither had I, until today. (Fun fact, Granson was actually teammates with Rice at SMU in 2019 and 2020.)

But let's get back to the point. The low ADOTs among Chiefs wide receivers is another indicator of Reid and Nagy's tendency to incorporate the screen game. Spamming screen passes to Rice in 2024 isn't going to continue to work (and that's even if you ignore the fact that Kansas City is probably going to be without Rice for an extensive stretch of the season). The 2023 version of the Chiefs offense lacked in variety, and that's where the additions of the 5'9" 180-lb. Brown and the 6'1" 170-lb. Worthy come in.

Brown's ADOT of 11.9 ranked a healthy 44th in the NFL in 2023 (and keep in mind, he was getting his targets from Kyler Murray, Josh Dobbs, and Clayton Tune). Moving forward, one of Brown's biggest contributions to the offensive scheme will be his ability to make plays on all three levels of the field. The 27-year-old Brown is not afraid to cross the middle of the field and will give quarterback Patrick Mahomes a great new weapon in seam, dig, and dagger concepts.

We all know Worthy possesses world-class speed, as evidenced by his record-breaking 4.21 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in March. But the Texas product also adds elite skill in the screen game, which will add another wrinkle to Reid's playbook.

Part of why the Chiefs were able to complete a deep pass in Baltimore that sealed the AFC Championship Game was the fact that Baltimore did not respect the Chiefs' downfield passing game. The Ravens were in tight press man and were keyed on the short passing game. Opposing defenses will not be able to do this in 2024 because of the threat posed by the outside speed of Brown and Worthy.

Look how tightly the Ravens are defending the Chiefs wideouts on this play. They practically dared Mahomes to look deep, and we all know how that worked out for them. The exciting part (or problem, depending on which team you root for) is that if teams back off into deeper shells next year, we can expect to see not just Rice, but Worthy and Brown get involved in the screen game.

In terms of available square footage on any given play, Patrick Mahomes' window of opportunity on the field just opened up a ton.

This should further the development of the 6'2" 205-lb. Rice in his second season, as the Chiefs would like to utilize his yards-after-catch talents further downfield. Once Rice has the ball in his hands, he looks like a running back, so it's going to be interesting to see him get more looks deeper into the secondary.

All of this only helps tight end Travis Kelce, who is still elite at age 34 but will benefit greatly from getting a little less attention in the middle of the field. The All Pro tight end can comfortable sit in open zones while his new teammates spread the field, and this will also help keep his legs fresh for another Super Bowl run. No one is greater at finding openings in the defense than Kelce, and the additions of Brown and Worthy will spread opposing defenses wide in 2024.