Where did the floor go for Marquez Valdes-Scantling?

The Chiefs' veteran deep threat has gone missing this season unexpectedly.

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

In a way, the wide receiver issues for the Kansas City Chiefs were foreseeable. Hiccups could (and even should) have been expected. Hurdles to be cleared. A recipe that involved too much hope and not enough substance.

In another way, the Chiefs' offensive downturn was/is a complete shock. Who could have seen this level of ineptitude coming? The term "comedy of errors" has been used multiple times to describe the events of multiple losses (or even wins) because it resembles a Mr. Bean episode where everything goes wrong—every floor is slick, every stack is knocked over, every foible is uncovered.

It's almost as if you could say "Boing!" on any play as the accompanying sound effect.

Amid all of the things that have gone wrong, the projections that have fallen short, the crossing of fingers that didn't even remotely affect things, the one part of the project serves as the most appalling of all: the disappearance of Marquez Valdes-Scantling's floor.

Coming into this season, we at least knew that Brett Veach was reaching when he called Kadarius Toney his No. 1 wide receiver. We also knew that Skyy Moore's hopes were based on draft buzz than first-year production. Richie James was signed after an unexpected breakout campaign, and fans were giving Rashee Rice a first-year pass because of "Andy Reid something something rookies."

Beyond all of that stood Valdes-Scantling, a veteran deep threat known for coming up with the occasional big play and forcing defenses to stay vertical enough to create space for others (even as he was also known for a dropped pass here and there). Valdes-Scantling was never going to be Mahomes's dominant weapon, but in a season where youth were being tasked to learn on the job, MVS and Travis Kelce were the vets in the room making sure the chains would keep moving.

So what happened?

Instead of the above scenario unfolding in his seventh NFL season, Valdes-Scantling just stopped producing. That's not to say he started to drop every pass coming his way at a regular rate. It's that he struggled to catch the occasional targets that suddenly dropped in half. Just like that, MVS found himself running sprints for no reason. Defenses weren't keying in on him, but Mahomes wasn't looking his way either.

In 2023, Valdes-Scantling has just been around. There's really no other way to say it. It'd be one thing if younger players were crowding him out, but it's been just the opposite. If anything, this would have been a banner year for MVS to set new career highs. Just last year, Mahomes looked his way 81 times—setting a new high mark for Valdes-Scantling with 4.8 targets/game. This year, MVS is averaging 2.6 targets per game and only 1.3 catches per game. Yes, that's one-point-three.

All of this is amplified by the fact that Valdes-Scantling is the highest-paid player at his position for the Chiefs. He carries a cap hit of $11 million for the Chiefs, which is a startling amount to pay for such anemic production. Fans take one look at that and wonder what the Chiefs are doing. And it's a good question.

This is what makes it all so confusing: why is Patrick Mahomes not targeting Valdes-Scantling at previous rates? In fact, it feels like MVS should be seeing more of the ball—not less—given how frustrating it's been to watch Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, or others fail to rise up. While MVS has had his share of miscues, at the very least, there should be a continued trust and chemistry with Mahomes already, right?

Instead, Mahomes is treating MVS like a brand new face in the Chiefs locker room, a player who suddenly doesn't know where to be and when. Consequently, the field has been significantly reduced because of Mahomes's lack of trust to go to Valdes-Scantling down the field. Since defenses can stay closer to home, every other facet of the Chiefs' offense has suffered as well. The results from Christmas Day speak for themselves.

Where did Valdes-Scantling go? Did he hit a wall near the age of thirty? Is he slower than he was in previous years? Has he gotten careless in his route-running? Is Mahomes purposefully trying to force things into the hands of younger players to speed along a long-term chemistry?

For those of us outside of Arrowhead, there are no clear answers here as to what happened to the floor. But without MVS providing at least an average year of production for the Chiefs, the offense has resembled a shell of itself after sixteen weeks.