Chiefs wide receivers lead the NFL with 26 drops this season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid was in a familiar place after Monday night's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, trying to explain why the Kansas City Chiefs' passing game failed again.

Reid didn't say anything he hadn't before recent games. He said things between Patrick Mahomes and many of his receivers were off and that the receivers were dropping too many passes. He pledged that the Chiefs would fix the problem.

"All of these things have been kind of self-inflicted," Reid said. "We've got to take care of that."

The time for a fix may have passed. The Chiefs are 10 games into the season and lead the league in dropped passes with 26, six more than any other team, and a drop percentage at 7.1. Mahomes has thrown nine interceptions and is headed for the worst statistical season of his career.

The time for the Chiefs to give Mahomes more help passed in the offseason, when they could have signed any of several veteran wide receivers, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and JuJu Smith-Schuster, among others.

The Chiefs instead spent much of their available money on defensive players, one for each level: lineman Charles Omenihu, linebacker Drue Tranquill and safety Mike Edwards. They went with who they had at wide receiver, adding only a rookie, Rashee Rice, in the second round of the draft.

An argument could be made that the Chiefs did the right thing. Omenihu, Tranquill and Edwards are playing well and helping the Chiefs become one of the NFL's top defensive teams. The Chiefs had stocked up the year before at wide receiver, signing veteran Marquez Valdes-Scantling, trading for Kadarius Toney and drafting Skyy Moore.

A better question: Why haven't those players given the Chiefs more? The Chiefs knew the early part of the season would be a developmental one for many of their receivers, with Valdes-Scantling being the only as an established NFL regular.

But that process is taking longer than the Chiefs hoped. The rookie, Rice, leads the wide receivers by significant margins in catches (36), yards (420) and touchdowns (4).

"Our expectation is to score a lot more than we did," wide receiver Justin Watson said after the 21-17 defeat Monday night to the Eagles. The Chiefs were scoreless in the second half for the third straight game.

"We've got to figure out how to get it fixed quick. Some of it is just the way defenses are playing us, some of it we've just got to make plays."

Watson is second among Chiefs wide receivers in catches (19) and yards (329). That it's Rice and Watson leading the way is a shock to the Chiefs, who believed going into the season that their big three would be in some order of Toney, Valdes-Scantling and Moore.

Those three players have combined for 53 catches, 493 yards and 3 touchdowns -- less than tight end Travis Kelce by himself.

The Chiefs traded for Toney midway through last season believing he might emerge as a No. 1 type of receiver. They tried to acquire him earlier in his career, hoping he would fall to them in the 2021 draft and then trying to deal for him months before they finally made it happen.

"He can do anything," general manager Brett Veach said last spring. "He's predominately been a guy that is a slot receiver, returner, runner, gadget guy if you will, but I don't know if there is a limit on his game because he has a vertical game. It's a fair question to [ask], 'Has he ever played with a quarterback that likes to push the ball down the field [like Mahomes]?'

"We have a lot of high hopes for him. He was a first-round pick for a reason. There's a reason why we traded for him and we felt like he was first-round talent. ... I think the sky is the limit for him."

Toney missed all of training camp after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus but he's played in every game. However, he has had minimal impact, and the Chiefs before the recent trade deadline acquired Mecole Hardman Jr., a player with similar skills as Toney.

Valdes-Scantling has been the most disappointing of Chiefs receivers. He has never been a high-volume pass-catcher in six NFL seasons, but usually delivered a large number of big plays.

He is averaging a healthy 17.8 yards per catch this season but has only 14 receptions. He had one game this season with more than two catches. Against the Eagles, he didn't catch any passes and his drop near the end zone contributed to the defeat.

"I know we all look at the numbers ... but here is a lot that he does well that sometimes doesn't show up on the stat sheet," offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said, pointing to Kelce's touchdown against the Eagles, where Valdes-Scantling effectively screened Kelce's defender, freeing him to score.

"He does a lot of that and I think that's a credit to him and that can be very selfless at times, which we love. Production-wise, he's not where he was last year and we do know that we have hopefully a bunch of season left and we want to be able to continue to keep working through these things as we have these different wide receivers."

Mahomes has been affected by the drops. He had an interception returned for a touchdown after it was deflected by Toney in a one-point, season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions. Moore dropped a pass in the end zone as the Chiefs were trying to rally in what would become a Week 8 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Valdes-Scantling's drop against the Eagles was as damaging as any. Mahomes immediately put his hands on his head in shock, perhaps knowing the Chiefs' best chance to win had slipped by.

"They know I'm going to keep firing it," Mahomes said. "That's just who I am. I'm going to fire it to the guy who's open and usually they're going to make the play. It happens. ... A lot of stuff happened throughout the game and so you just have to keep firing."