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Marquez Valdes-Scantling breaks down Chiefs’ wide receivers’ room after big day

Kansas City’s wideouts responded to season-long criticism with an efficient performance against the Chargers.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs moved to 6-1 with Sunday’s 31-17 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. On top of a huge day for star tight end Travis Kelce, the team’s much-maligned wide receiver corps put in a solid performance.

Speaking after the game, wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling was happy to finally hit the high bar the Chiefs have set on offense over the past few seasons.

“We scored 31 points,” he stated, “I guess that’s the biggest indicator [of offensive improvement]. Obviously, that’s our standard from what they’ve done in the past and what we did last year. What our standard is as an offense — we just have so many talented players from top to bottom [and] in every position room that you’d think we should be able to score 30 points every week. That’s always our goal: to be the No. 1 offense and win games.”

A criticism of the Chiefs roster has been the lack of a true No. 1 receiver to take pressure off of Kelce. Of the six Kansas City wideouts who were active on Sunday, all but Justyn Ross recorded a catch. The unit finished with a combined 13 catches for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Valdes-Scantling does not see the Chiefs’ philosophy of spreading the ball changing.

Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

“I think that as a room,” he explained, “we’ve all been in the position to rally around guys. At the end of the day, we’re so unique with how we operate as a receiver room. I don’t think a lot of teams do it how we do it with the versatility and having seven guys that can go in and play any time.”

Two things he sees making the room more effective are the continued improvement of rookie Rashee Rice and the return of Mecole Hardman, who rejoined the Chiefs this week via trade after leaving for the New York Jets in free agency.

“I think [Rice is] doing a really good job of just doing what he’s supposed to do,” Valdes-Scantling observed, “and making the plays that he’s supposed to make. [He’s] not trying to be anything that he’s not. You see a lot of rookies come in and try to do to much and can’t figure out what’s the right thing to do and what’s the wrong thing to do.

“He’s just been doing his job. It’s been paying off for him. He’s a quiet kid that listens to what he’s told to do and always wants to learn [and is] always taking notes. It shows week in and week out. It’s him making the plays, and obviously Pat trusts him to keep giving him the ball.”

Rice scored his third touchdown of his first season on Sunday. Valdes-Scantling is also happy with what Hardman brings back to the room.

“Obviously,” he stated, “we traded for him for a reason: he’s a hell of a player. Me and Mecole have a great friendship that stayed true, even when he left. He was one of the first guys that I told to when I got here. Being able to bring him back and just enjoy his energy — he’s a loud one. He’s energetic, and his play shows.”

Valdes-Scantling himself had his best game of 2023 on Sunday with three catches for 84 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown. On his scoring play, he also showed the improvised connection with Mahomes that has been missing so far in their second season working together.

“We had a play called,” Valdes-Scantling recalled, “and I was on the other side of field. He had some pressure, and I kind of just worked with him and ran to the other side of the field. He saw me and made eye contact, and I said, ‘Hey, throw me the ball.’ And he threw it to me.”

Going into Sunday, Valdes-Scantling and Mahomes had only connected for seven receptions for 172 yards across six games. The receiver denied any negative feelings about his role.

“There’s no frustration,” Valdes-Scantling claimed. “We’re winning games. Obviously, as a receiver, you want the ball every play. If you want to say I’m frustrated, then I can say I’m frustrated every single play I don’t get the ball...I don’t take it too far. You’re never going to see me throwing tablets on the sideline because I didn’t get the football thrown to me.

“Obviously, there’s plays where you’re like ‘Hey, I could have gotten this one.’ or whatever it is...Anything that is like that gets handled inside the building. You won’t ever see me get frustrated outside of it.”

Having primarily played as a deep threat, Valdes-Scantling is used to inconsistency in his stats.

Kansas City Chiefs v New York Jets Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

“I’ve averaged like 20 yards a catch my whole career,” said the speedster. “There’s going to be days where guys don’t want me to get big plays — and that’s just the reality of it. There going to do anything they can to stop me from going one for 80.

“They’ll let Travis or whoever catch 10 balls before they let me catch one. That’s been the name of the game. I’ve been one of the better deep threats in the league me whole career. I take it with pride, and I see the respect I get from defenses across the league.”

Valdes-Scantling’s next opportunity will come next weekend as the Chiefs play the Denver Broncos for the second time in three weeks. Denver held Valdes-Scantling without a catch on only one target in Week 6’s edition of “Thursday Night Football.”

“If I could get all 60 thrown at me, I would,” he declared. “We’ll see what happens next week. We’re going against a good defense that held me to no catches.”

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