Dwayne Bowe is underrated and overrated, both at the same time. To some, Bowe is an elite receiver who can change the game on any play. To others, he's a knucklehead who is paid way too much for far too little production.
Personally, I see Bowe as a very good all-around receiver. He's slightly overpaid, but more valuable than many realize because of his blocking and ability to make tough catches in traffic. Some will always hold it against him that he did not catch that final pass in Indianapolis.
Coming into 2014, Bowe needs to have a better season. After signing a five-year, $56 million contract with $20 million guaranteed, Bowe underperformed statistically last season. The former first round pick had the second-worst season of his seven-year career, catching only 57 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns.
With a tougher schedule looming and expectations rising, Bowe needs to become the receiver we saw in 2010 and 2011, amassing 1,162 and 1,159 yards respectively with 20 total touchdowns. It is likely the Chiefs will add another receiver in the draft, perhaps even in the first round, to start alongside Bowe.
Still, don't expect much from a rookie. History shows that most rookie receivers are nothing more than developmental players, unless you get the rare one like Randy Moss or Anquan Boldin. The receiving corps will still be led by Bowe, for better or worse.
In fairness to Bowe, he is not totally at fault for his numbers being down. Throughout the first two months of the season, Bowe was rarely targeted as Alex Smith learned the offense, and the offensive line learned how to block. The entire offense was a disaster until the first game against the San Diego Chargers, when it finally exploded for 38 points.
Over the first eight games of the season, Bowe was targeted 46 times by Smith. In the last seven regular season contests (Bowe did not play the last game), Bowe was thrown to 59 times. Even so, Bowe did not register one game of 100+ yards (until the playoffs). If Kansas City wants a return trip to the postseason, that stat can't be duplicated.
It's not unreasonable to demand an 1,000-yard season from Bowe with around eight touchdowns on 70 receptions. He's being paid to be a top receiver and needs to perform like one. He also needs to stay out of the police blotter. I have defended Bowe for much of his career, but with the team beginning to take flight, he needs to step up.
The 29-year-old has all the physical abilities to be a dynamic mismatch. When Kansas City plays the Denver Broncos, he needs to be dominant, instead of his combined seven catches for 113 yards against them last season. Bowe must rise to the challenge, giving Smith a vital weapon outside the numbers.