NFL's Clearing of Tyreek Hill Opens Road to Potentially Historic Chiefs Season

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterJuly 23, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyreek Hill as offensive lineman Andrew Wylie (77) blocks Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) during the first half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

It was April when an audio recording surfaced of Tyreek Hill threatening and arguing with his fiancee Crystal Espinal about allegations he broke their son’s arm. It rocked the NFL. The league announced on Friday that Hill would not be disciplined, but the Chiefs were prepared either way.

That preparation centered on drafting Georgia receiver Mecole Hardman in the second round this past spring. While no one can say for certain if Hardman was an insurance policy for Hill, you'd be a fool to think otherwise. One scout we spoke with compared him to DeSean Jackson, and some teams viewed the pick as one of the best of the draft.

Now, Hill is back, Hardman is around to bolster a roster already deep at the skill positions, and a team with maybe the most athletic offense in football is even more dangerous. Kansas City's attack has the potential to be so explosive that some teams' personnel men told B/R they believe the single-season scoring record of 606 points, set by the Peyton Manning-led Broncos in 2013, could fall.

Consider that last year the Chiefs scored 565 points, and this offense might be better. Just look at the ages of some of the key contributors: Mahomes, 23. Hill, 25, Sammy Watkins, 26. Hell, Travis Kelce isn't even 30 yet.

(One note before we get back to football: It's remarkable to me how a player who is on tape physically threatening a woman wasn't suspended for that act alone. If that doesn't violate the NFL's personal conduct policies, then those policies aren't worth the gigabytes they are written on. But this is a larger debate for another day.)

In other words, the Chiefs have the makings of what could be a historic offense:

Mahomes: He threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns last year. Even if those numbers fell to 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns, that would still be a remarkable season.

Where things get interesting with Mahomes—and it will be the biggest factor for him—is what happens when defenses throw new defensive schemes and wrinkles at him? This is where Mahomes is fortunate to have Andy Reid as his coach. No one in the modern history of the sport is better at anticipating—and countering—what defenses will do.

Hill: Surrounded by even more receiving talent, he will be harder to stop than last season, when he caught 87 passes and had 1,843 yards all-purpose yards and scored 14 touchdowns. If defenses focus too much on him, it opens things up for Kelce and others. If defenses shift resources to the other options, Hill will find himself in single coverage.

With a deeper corps of receivers playing alongside him, Tyreek Hill may have a chance to better the 12 receiving TDs he scored last season.
With a deeper corps of receivers playing alongside him, Tyreek Hill may have a chance to better the 12 receiving TDs he scored last season.Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Kelce: Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the deeper offensive talent pool in K.C. this season. Kelce has spent much of his career facing double-teams, and he's sure to see fewer of them. It's simple math.

Watkins: Though limited to only 10 games last season, he could still emerge as one of the most significant free-agent additions (he signed a three-year deal with the Chiefs in 2018) of the past few seasons. After five seasons, Watkins still has massive potential, and Reid is just the coach to mine it. And if you needed a reminder of just how good Watkins could be, he had four catches for 114 yards in the AFC title game.

Carlos Hyde: Hyde is part of a massively underrated backfield. Yes, Hyde has played for three different teams over the past three years, but it's his 2016 (during which he ran for 988 yards and six touchdowns) and 2017 (938 rushing yards and eight TDs) seasons that the Chiefs are after.

Again, the key is Reid. While Reid turns into a pumpkin when coaching in the playoffs, he's Cinderella on HGH in the regular season. Few coaches in the modern history of the sport have gotten more out of their players during the regular season than Reid.

Damien Williams: The starting back, and while he isn't a household name, check out what he did in the AFC title game against New England: 30 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown as well as five catches for 66 yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Damien Williams showed what he may be capable of as a lead running back in scoring three touchdowns against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Damien Williams showed what he may be capable of as a lead running back in scoring three touchdowns against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Add in a talented and experienced offensive line, and there may not be a team with better offensive components outside of the Saints and Rams. And neither of those teams are as explosive.

The comparison to the Broncos' record-setting 2013 team is in some ways perfect. Yes, that team had Manning, a Hall of Famer, but it wasn't full of superstars, much in the way the Chiefs are built. Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker didn't make anyone turn on the game by themselves, but they comprised a team that racked up 641 more yards of offense than any other that season.

It wouldn't take much for the Chiefs to surpass that Broncos team. That's how good Hill is. That's how good Hardman could be.

That's how good this entire offense is.

        

 Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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