For all logical purposes, the addition of Jeremy Maclin to the Kansas City Chiefs organization seems to be as perfect a fit on paper as any marriage of player and team could hope to achieve in matching a high price free agent with the perfect system that allows said player to become an elite level performer.
Yet it wasn’t the work of karma alone that brought Maclin to Kansas City. Much to the contrary, the business side of the NFL saw Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey hand Maclin a five-year, $55 million contract with $22.5 of that sum in the form of guarantees. That was the price of poker in order to bring Maclin’s exceptional services back to the Mid-west, a move Dorsey immediately referred to after he was signed as, “bringing Maclin back home where he belongs.”
Unavoidably, it was a pricy homecoming for Kansas City to pay, but one that certainly didn’t bother Maclin or the organization. Both sides, once the deal was consummated, were all smiles. Understandably for the player, he was happy to accept the chance to reunite with Reid and many of his former coaches from the Eagles. However, the reason he came to the Chiefs was to eventually become the primary weapon for Quarterback, Alex Smith.
The details simplified within Reid’s offense will call for Maclin to be the number one check down option for Smith if Maclin isn’t already the centerpiece of the overall play design as the “Z” target.
Regardless of play design specifics, we all know inevitably, that every pass play to number 19 this season will invoke some fanatics within Chiefs Kingdom to-ask if Maclin was worth the investment.
Before we ask those kinds of questions, let’s keep in mind, first and foremost, that Maclin isn’t a blocker in the mold of the man he’s replacing, Dwayne Bowe, who was solid in brushing aside cornerbacks in the run game. For Maclin, his game is reminiscent of former Chiefs receiver, Eddie Kennison. In his prime, Kennison , engineered back-to-back thousand yards seasons for Head Coach, Dick Vermeil, and his famed Air Coryell style offense.
It’s not exactly fair to either, Maclin or Kennison, to insinuate they’re the same receivers because of similar size and attributes. Instead consider the two in relation to their offensive goals over-simplified: to become a speedy distraction for the running backs to quickly get down the field, or to catch the ball when called upon utilizing precision routes.
Last season, Maclin achieved those goals, granted it was in a different offense, but he was a full speed playmaker. However, it wasn’t Chip Kelly out there getting brutalized on the gridiron for 143 targets. Nope, that was Maclin brilliantly executing his new coach’s scheme to the highest possible level after only one year removed from a torn ACL that cost him the 2013 season.
Impressively, KC’s newest star, ought back like a warrior, played in all 16 games in 2014, racked up 1,318 yards and 10 TD’s on his way to his best year ever. That platitude of numbers allowed him to the prime catch in free agency at the wide receiver position.
This season, whether at Arrowhead or on the road, Maclin’s presence will give the Chiefs offense a fun dynamic the team hasn’t offered its fans since the Vermeil era. As far as the present, Maclin possess more potential to be a superstar than Kennison ever displayed as Trent Green’s top target back when he was hurling the Chiefs pigskin.
Still putting comparisons of the current Chiefs team with its junior self a decade ago, really doesn’t matter. The fact Dorsey and Reid gave their offense a much needed makeover when they signed the biggest free agent receiver on the market, speaks volumes for addressing the teams biggest need in the off-season. In doing it at the onset of free agency, the move instantly gave Smith a legitimate option that knows how to play Reid’s west coast offense as well as any receiver on the planet.
"Phenomenal route runner," said Reid about his star receiver. "Obviously he is fast, we know that. But to be fast is one thing. To be able to run a route fast and know how to set a route up is something else. To be able to read the coverage is another thing and that all kind of comes easy to him." .
For Reid, that talk isn’t lip service; he knows what Maclin brings to the table better than anyone. And for Maclin’s part, he understands how to play at the highest level in Reid’s complex offensive system.
That means, as I stated earlier something we all know, expectations are through the roof for Reid and Maclin. What we don’t know is what lies ahead for the pair in Kansas City. Thus until the season starts expectations will be lofty like a high rise that stretches into the heavens.
For now, the Super Bowl prayers that might be answered for every Chiefs fan might be tied to the success of this NFL reunion. That means everyone has to sit back, and hope the combination of Reid and Maclin, match the expectations with a firm grip of reality that guides Kansas City to achieving all their team goals in 2015.