Not many of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ assistant coaches have dealt with as much personnel turnover as wide receivers coach Joe Bleymaier did during the past offseason.
Not only did his star receiver Tyreek Hill depart, most of his depth walked also out the door — and as head coach Andy Reid reminded us a few weeks ago, a rebuilding season never crossed anyone’s mind. Bleymaier was simply expected to get the newcomers ready to roll.
He talked about it during his press appearance on Thursday.
“We asked all the guys that were coming in — because there were a number of departures, not just Tyreek — to basically get all caught up and sped up to where we were today, so we can just keep going as an offense,” Bleymaier explained. “The guys we brought in bought into that. Smart guys, great players... for them to get to where we are, was huge... That has allowed our quarterback and all the other skill positions to keep on rolling where we left off.”
The Chiefs’ passing attack didn’t lose a step. In fact, it may have become even more impressive. Currently, quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns, while ranking second in yards per pass attempt.
Among the newcomers, JuJu Smith-Schuster was the biggest name — and he has made the biggest contribution. But his recent concussion is one of the reasons first-year wide receiver Skyy Moore has been getting more opportunities. The rookie has made the most of it so far — which doesn’t surprise his coach.
“The best thing he does is [that] he comes in each week — and whether we’ve run the play one time or 100 on the practice field, he treats it as that most important rep,” said Bleymaier about Moore’s approach. “He goes through the mental [part] — different variations of the coverages — and comes over and tries to ask questions. [That’s] a veteran-type move. On Sundays, you could see any look.”
That extra preparation in practice has made his transition from playing a handful of snaps — to playing 35 against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 12 — a smooth one. It’s also a more comfortable feeling to be a consistent part of the passing game, rather than having just a specialized role.
“Early on, we were introducing him into the offense, and he had packages,” noted Bleymaier. “That mentality — where you’re in and out based on specific plays — is kind of an assassin mentality... [you] have to be perfect. At this point in the season — with some of the injuries and just where we are — he is more of the flow of just having to play receiver in this offense.
“Whether it’s one specific spot or anywhere on the field... That kind of just frees him up to play football — and that’s what he’s good at, as opposed to thinking about, ‘Hey, this is my one play that I’ve worked all week on. I have to be perfect.’ Now he knows what he’s doing [and] he’s confident in his assignment. Now he can just go play.”
While Moore is a rookie, he isn’t the newest member of the receiving corps. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney entered the room after a midseason trade. He had a few exciting performances before tweaking his hamstring, which has caused him to miss the last two games. Bleymaier was impressed with how prepared Toney was to play.
“He can handle a lot mentally, then go out and perform,” said Bleymaier of his new weapon. “He was operating full speed — knowing his assignments. He tackled any assignment with full gusto — whether it [was] on the field or in the classroom. He is willing to play; he wants to play. When he’s healthy, he’ll be back out there. But his approach is [that] you can’t overload him. That’s what I’ve learned so far.”
Another newcomer — veteran wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling — often looked like the team’s No. 1 wideout during the offseason and training camp. But his impact during the season has been only in a specific role. But Bleymaier believes he can do much more.
“[Valdes-Scantling] can do anything; he is a well-rounded receiver,” Bleymaier asserted. “We ask him to do a lot of the vertical routes with a number of the complementary skill players that we have.
“He has hidden yardage out there — where maybe the ball hasn’t found him — but he was running routes where he was open or he could’ve gotten yardage. I think the timing — the situation of the ball finding him — [is when] he will start to accumulate the stats that his route running and his play has shown on film that he’s capable of.”
Even if Valdes-Scantling hasn’t turned the corner like some imagined he would, he is still a valuable part of the passing attack, earning 16.6 yards per reception on 31 catches.
No matter which of the new wide receivers is under the spotlight, you can see that that Kansas City’s passing offense really did pick up where it left off — and might even be better than it was.