The Kansas City Chiefs’ 23-20 victory over the New York Jets did little to quiet the concerns over the team’s wide receivers. Even with the team’s 3-1 record, the most significant recent talking has been the wide receiver position.
Rookie receiver Rashee Rice came into the season with modest expectations. Most of this was due to the track record that head coach Andy Reid has with rookies at the position — as usually, it takes a season to be acclimated into Reid’s system.
That considered, Rice is off to a promising start, with 13 receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown in four games. The early returns are encouraging. Despite being the newest member of the wide receiver room, Rice has the most targets of the group and is second on the team behind Travis Kelce.
Reid took some time on Wednesday to discuss what he’d seen from Rice.
“I know he had the drop, but he does a great job of catching the ball and getting upfield,” said Reid. “You can see his skill, and he’s learning the game right now. But you’re seeing progress every week, you see something that makes you say, ‘You know what? This guy’s not a bad player.’”
As Reid alluded, drops have been a problem for Rice since his days at SMU. He’s already logged four drops in his 19 targets this season. However, when the ball is in his hands, he is electric after the catch. Reid talked about Rice being a weapon in the red zone and against zone-heavy defenses.
Despite some of the drops, quarterback Patrick Mahomes relied on him for their game-winning field goal drive, as Rice caught all three of his targets for 32 yards.
Tied 20-20 the Chiefs were in the middle of an offensive drought. A heavy dose of Rashee Rice (3 catches 32 yards) helped the Chiefs score the game winning field goal.— Price Carter (@ArrowheadPrice) October 3, 2023
Rice brings a certain level explosiveness this offense needs #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/8b0LJKgfhg
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke about the progress Rice has made.
“He’s just learning. He has all the talent in the world,” said Mahomes. “He’s just learning how to read coverages, how to read the progression of this offense. I think you all see how talented he is after he makes the catch and he’s moving down the field. He’s a tough, physical runner; he’s explosive. I think as the season goes on, he will continue to get better and better.”
Rice spoke about his ability to hit the ground running in this offense by not being nervous about it.
“I wanted to have an impact on the offense as soon as I could,” said Rice. “During the preseason, it got me ready and got my nerves out of the way. Got me out of the way of being in a rush and instead just being calm and playing fast. So when the regular season got here, I was ready for my moment.”
RASHEE RICE HAS HIS FIRST TD— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 8, 2023
As Rice continues to flash his athleticism and speed, he must become synchronized with Mahomes. Most of Mahomes’ favorite targets have all had the ability to find open space when a play breaks down.
“We have a great quarterback, and when he gets out of the pocket, he can always do something amazing when the ball is in his hands,” added Rice. “So if you’re available and in his eyesight, all you’ve go to do is watch the ball and make the play.
Rice emphasized that eliminating the drops is the next step for him as a player.
“I need to work on watching the ball in [my hands],” he said. “I can work on my game every day, and every time we are at practice we are working on our game. We are never at the point that we are complete. We want to just keep working and get better.”
Rice will have an excellent opportunity to build his rapport with Mahomes as he faces the Minnesota Vikings defense. The Vikings rank 20th in yards allowed and 19th in points allowed — and their secondary has much to improve upon.