In this weekly series for Arrowhead Pride, I’ll ask one big question about the Kansas City Chiefs’ season. A week ago, we discussed whether the Chiefs should commit to rookie left tackle Wanya Morris for the rest of the season.
This week, we’re looking at the Chiefs’ offseason decisions regarding their wide receivers.
Why did the Chiefs trust Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney?
When I write one of these weekly pieces, I always want to be looking ahead. After all, the goal is always to win the Super Bowl — and to do that, Kansas City should focus on things that can push the team forward.
But as I watched the Chiefs’ offense blow another close game to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, I couldn’t help but look back. The offense hasn’t done anything that gives me optimism it can turn things around. So naturally, my mind turneds to this question: “Why did this happen?”
The offense has a lot of issues. The running game is worse than it was a year ago. Signing right tackle Jawaan Taylor hasn’t been a boost to the offensive line. Key returning veterans like running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling have been missing in action for most of the season. Even future Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce has taken a noticeable step back from a year ago.
But when I’m thinking about all the team’s offensive issues, I keep coming back to two players: wide receivers Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore.
In the offseason, they appeared to be the lynchpins that could tie the offense together. I wrote about how Moore’s development would set the floor for the passing offense, comparing him to a young Randall Cobb. I believed Toney would set the floor, saying that his health would be a critical factor in whether the Chiefs could generate the explosive plays needed for the offense to reach its potential.
Unfortunately, the passing offense didn’t even come close to reaching its ceiling — and its floor has cratered. Since Week 8, the Chiefs rank 24th in expected points added (EPA) per dropback. For six weeks, the team’s passing offense has been among the league’s worst. Here are the quarterbacks who are running the passing offenses ranked behind Kansas City.
- Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns
- Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots
- Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
- Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers
- Zach Wilson, New York Jets
- Tommy Devito, New York Giants
- Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders
Except for Murray — who has only played three games — the Chiefs are only better than teams that are playing backup or rookie quarterbacks.
There are a lot of reasons this has happened — but to me, it comes back to how Moore and Toney set the floor and ceiling.
Let’s start with Toney. After he was injured during warmups on the first day of training camp, the resulting knee surgery removed all hope that he could be further acclimated into the passing offense. On top of that, he’s had an awful season. Whether it’s from drops, ball security issues, running routes incorrectly — or even a routine thing like lining up onsides — Toney has failed spectacularly.
Here’s how his 2023 statistics compare to what he did in Kansas City in 2022.
All data from Pro Football Reference.
Even after playing five more games than last year — and having 11 more catches — Toney has yet to outpace his 2022 output. His efficiency is also dramatically lower; his receiving success rate has dipped to 50%.
The hope was that a full offseason in Kansas City’s healthy ecosystem would allow him to thrive — but that just hasn’t happened. The Chiefs tried expanding his role, but he responded with undisciplined plays that cost them games. Toney is down to playing 25% of available snaps — which barely exceeds his 2022 figure of 23%.
Moore, however, may be having a more disappointing 2023 campaign. Like many others, I enjoyed watching his rookie flashes — and was optimistic about him for this season. But as the comparative stats show, he’s been a non-factor in Kansas City’s passing offense.
Moore’s stats are almost identical to his rookie year — despite having his role expanded, which has led to playing 166 more offensive snaps. Between drops, miscommunications with Mahomes and a general inability to create separation, Moore has gone from having the potential to be an offensive pillar to being just another guy in the wide receiver room.
It can be started pretty simply: this season, Moore and Toney have been among the league’s worst wide receivers.
Should the Chiefs have seen this coming? Considering concerns about their consistency and injuries, why did the team put so much on their plates? Why didn’t Kansas City have a contingency plan in case they didn’t develop quickly enough? In 2022, neither had production that would justify a belief they could be high-level contributors this season — and yet, the Chiefs trusted them to be starters who could play at a championship level.
Unfortunately, the decisions have been made — and the organization is paying the price for its mistakes. What have the Chiefs learned? Will they draft more wide receivers — or will they prefer to build around veterans?
Kansas City has acquired a lot of information about how it should build its offense in the post-Kelce world it will soon inhabit. Let’s hope the Chiefs will learn from their mistakes — just as they did with the offensive line after the team’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.