The Chiefs’ offense needs a game-breaker for the 2023 season

Since quarterback Patrick Mahomes took over in 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs have had the NFL’s best offense.

At this point, the roster is constructed under the assumption that the Kansas City offense will be among the league’s top five each season. With Mahomes, head coach Andy Reid — and the long list of weapons the Chiefs have had over the last five years — this is a safe bet. Just the same, Kansas City’s Super Bowl offense featured a less-dynamic group of skill players than they took to Miami or Tampa Bay in their two previous championship appearances.

While the team showed it could elevate lesser talent in 2022, that doesn’t mean that should be the normal plan of action. After all… an injury to tight end Travis Kelce injury would completely handicap the team. While Kelce has been fantastic (and healthy) over the vast majority of his career, the soon-to-be 34-year-old can’t be counted upon forever.

New wide receiver Kadarius Toney has certainly showed the ability to break opposing game plans — but there are still plenty of unknowns about him. Those issues begin with his injury history, which was a red flag when he arrived from the New York Giants. He continued to miss playing time in his short time in Kansas City. Added to that are his struggles to develop as a route runner. While it’s possible he could take a step forward in the coming year, we can’t count on him for more than we saw last season.

Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco finished the season strong, continuing to develop in the offense as he played a key role in bringing another Lombardi trophy to Kansas City. Still, no defensive coordinator lies awake at night worrying about him. While he showed he is able to take advantage of a particular defense, there’s a reason he was available in the seventh round of the draft: he’s not the kind of player who can dominate a game. Though the Chiefs are (and should be) thrilled to have him, the team can do better.

Meanwhile, rookie wideout Skyy Moore is a total unknown. While he showed flashes in 2022, he still has a lot of growing to do. Can he burst onto the scene in 2023? Or will he be exactly what he was last season: a depth wide receiver?

Kansas City will still have Marquez Valdez-Scantling on the roster this season, too. It’s true that he stepped up in a big way during the AFC Championship game — but looking at his 2022 numbers, he appears to be exactly the player he with the Green Bay Packers.

Finding a game-breaking player

This offseason, the free-agent market for wideouts and tight ends is particularly barren — some of the top names include former Chiefs Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman — but some very good running backs will be available. Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Miles Sanders and David Montgomery could all find new homes — as could lesser players with potential like Rashaad Penny, Jamaal Williams and Samaje Perine. Adding another solid back to the rotation could really elevate the offense — especially if they can have an impact in the passing game.

Kansas City should prioritize skill players early in the draft. While the wide receiver class does not have the high ceiling we’ve seen in recent classes, but there’s great depth in the second and third rounds. This is, however, a terrific class of running backs; the Chiefs should be able to acquire a very good back on Day 2.

After the 2020 draft, we were all telling ourselves how it made sense to pick a running back in the first round. But now that Kansas City has Pacheco, fans seem repulsed by the idea of taking a back in the top three rounds — but historically, that’s where the good backs have been found.

The bottom line

If you’re looking at the Chiefs’ offense and saying, “They did it last year, so they can do it again,” you’re probably walking a dangerous line. Even though Kansas City was incredibly healthy last season, it still was a final-second dogfight to win the championship.

The Chiefs’ offense doesn’t need much, but it does need another player who can break opposing game plans — someone who can make plays even when the opponent does everything right. Bringing in additional offensive weapons also helps keep the team’s star quarterback happy — and that should also be a priority.

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