Without Tyreek Hill, the Kansas City Chiefs ‘lose the ability to instill fear’ – Kansas City Chiefs Blog


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t necessarily drop themselves from consideration for a seventh straight AFC West championship or a berth in the Super Bowl for the third time in four seasons with the blockbuster trade of Wednesday.

But there’s no denying they made their job harder by trading in a wide receiver Tyreek Hill at the Miami Dolphins.

“When you move Tyreek Hill off that offense, you lose the ability to instill fear in the opposing defense,” said ESPN NFL analyst and former defensive back Matt Bowen. “When Tyreek Hill is on the pitch, the defense is under constant threat on all three levels because he can catch a shallow [pass] and go for six, he can catch a deep and go for six and he can run right past you whenever he wants. He could beat you vertically or horizontally. Such a unique talent.

“That element is now gone from their offense.”

Hill is the most dynamic NFL player of his era. He has 20 touchdowns from 50+ yards, seven more than any other player, since entering the league in 2016. He has 26 touchdowns on passes thrown at least 20 yards since 2017, 10 more than any other player.

There’s not much clarity on how effectively the Chiefs will function without him. He has been remarkably resilient throughout his career, missing just six games. Two came at the end of the season in 2017 and 2020 when the Chiefs were seating many of their regulars in preparation for the playoffs.

Four came in 2019 when an injury knocked him out of their roster. Then the Chiefs went 3-1 without Hill. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for nearly 500 yards in one game and over 300 yards in two others.

Surviving and even thriving through a four-game streak without Hill three years ago doesn’t seem instructive now, with the Chiefs building a playbook for a season without him. Their top two receivers then without Hill were Samy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. Both are now gone.

The Chiefs’ top receivers in 2022, at least until they can add through free agency or the draft, are recently signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman.

“I really like this move,” Bowen said of Smith-Schuster. “I think he’s one of the most underrated moves in free agency. He brings a physical element to this offense. He’s a physical presence. He’s a big slots receiver. He can work inside the hashes where it gets a little dirty. There’s a lot of bodies in there. But he also has some ability to grab and run. He’s more explosive than you might think. think.

“Hardman plays a specific role in this offense. He can stretch the defense vertically or horizontally. But that’s not Tyreek Hill.”

The Chiefs are interested in signing Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has some of Hill’s game but not all of it.

“He’s a different type of player,” Bowen said. “He’s a longer body, longer frame, more of a straight-line player. But he can get the better of a defense. He can be engineered to get clashes against safety cover in the quarters or to win on the outside as a vertical target. He doesn’t have the lateral quickness of a Tyreek Hill. He’s not the same player. But the Chiefs won’t have the same player. That player is now in Miami with the Dolphins.

With some creative play designs from coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, the Chiefs might be able to cover Hill’s loss with several different receivers, including Smith-Schuster, Hardman, tight end Travis Kelce, perhaps Valdez-Scantling and others. The Chiefs after the Hill trade have two picks in each of the first four rounds, giving them the ability to target players with specific skills they believe fit their pattern.

An interesting possibility is Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in last season’s national championship game.

“We know he has game-changing speed,” Bowen said. “We know he has the ability to be a game-changer. We know he suffered a knee injury last year, but they’re not drafting him for the first four games in September. They’re drafting him to play his career in Kansas City.

“He’s the first player that comes to mind when trying to replicate that kind of game-changing speed and element of fear that you can create in defensive backs.”

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