In this weekly series for Arrowhead Pride, I’ll ask one big question about the Kansas City Chiefs’ season. Last week, I wrote about whether the Chiefs should make an acquisition at the trade deadline. This week, we’re looking ahead to a critical juncture of the NFL season.
This week, we’re asking a question about a young wide receiver on the roster;
Should the Chiefs continue playing Skyy Moore?
When I was writing my “10 biggest questions” series this summer, I mentioned how I believed wide receiver Skyy Moore’s emergence would determine the floor of the wide receiver room. With wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster gone, the Chiefs lacked a player who could fill that possession receiver role that Smith-Schuster was so good at. The natural replacement would be Moore, so my expectations for him were rather high.
Through eight weeks, that hasn’t worked out. Currently, Moore is on pace for 57 targets, 30 catches, 357 yards and two touchdowns. Those stats hardly exceed the 33 targets, 22 catches, 250 yards and zero touchdowns he put up last year, even while Moore is playing 59% of snaps rather than 29%. In eight games, Moore already has six games of two catches or fewer and less than 25 receiving yards in a game.
Comparing Moore’s numbers to the rest of the NFL doesn’t look much better, either. According to Pro Football Focus, Moore currently has the 21st-lowest yards per route run at 0.83 (minimum 50 routes ran). Against man coverage, Moore has the 52nd-lowest yards per route run at 1.47 yards per route run (minimum 25 routes) and is 26th-lowest in yards per route run vs. zone coverage at 0.63 (minimum 25 routes). On a per-snap basis, Moore has been one of the least efficient wide receivers in the NFL this season, which would seem impossible when your quarterback is Patrick Mahomes.
There’s no question that Moore has been a tremendous disappointment so far. Before the season, I compared Moore to former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb regarding skill set and developmental arc. In Cobb’s second season, Cobb produced 80 catches on 104 targets, 954 yards and eight touchdowns. Unless Moore suddenly has a massive breakout, he won’t come close to putting those stats up this season.
Moore represents a conundrum with what the organization is trying to do. Coming into this season, the Chiefs were banking on a lot of young, unproven players to be positive contributors to a championship-level offense. Regardless of whether those players were fully ready, they would get more opportunities to play based on the lack of experience within the wide receiver room.
Young players need reps to develop, but the Chiefs don’t have the luxury of affording mistakes from young players. They’re trying to win a Super Bowl, and it’s incredibly difficult to do that with a bunch of young players making mistakes. Moore needs a situation where he can get as many reps and targets as possible to develop, but the Chiefs aren’t able to give him those opportunities. He’s not playing well enough to justify giving him extra opportunities, which hinders his ability to develop as well.
So, if Moore isn’t getting the opportunities to develop, what is the purpose of playing him?
He’s currently not giving a lot to the Chiefs in productivity, but he also doesn’t alter the way defenses play. Moore isn’t fast enough to threaten defenses vertically, and teams don’t have to worry about his size along the sidelines. Moore doesn’t give the Chiefs any schematic advantage, so when he’s not getting the football, he doesn’t provide a lot of volume. So, would it make more sense to get different players who might alter defenses more snaps? Should someone like Kadarius Toney or Mecole Hardman get more snaps since their speed affects defenses more?
This is where things get tricky with Moore.
You can take his snaps away, but that will hurt his long-term outlook moving forward. The Chiefs spent a second-round pick on Moore and have a genuine vested interest in his development. If they’re already starting to take away opportunities, how can they expect him to improve? Can Moore be a part of the long-term vision of the franchise?
The bottom line
After this season, we’ll be halfway through Moore’s rookie contract. The Chiefs need to know whether Moore is a piece they can build around. The only way they can learn is by watching him play regular-season snaps in an NFL context. If Moore isn’t helping the team currently, playing him as a high-snap wide receiver makes little sense. Yet benching him makes it difficult to know whether the Chiefs can rely on him next year.
Moore’s start to his career has been underwhelming. I sincerely hope he can find a groove within this offense, but as of now, it hasn’t been a positive return on Moore’s selection. He’s running out of runway to show flashes of improved play, and until he does, his snaps may be limited further.
For his sake, I hope he starts to show more moving forward.