By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
Coach Andy Reid figured out his franchise quarterback needed a true No. 1 wide receiver after five seasons as a head coach and three straight losses in the NFC championship game. Now, Patrick Mahomes knows what Donovan McNabb went through in Philadelphia.
McNabb’s top wide receivers in his first five seasons were Torrance Small, Charles Johnson, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. When the Eagles acquired Terrell Owens in 2004, McNabb had his best season and the team reached the Super Bowl.
Reid, Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have won two Super Bowls together, including one last year without Tyreek Hill. But it’ll be hard for them to win another one without a dependable receiver other than tight end Travis Kelce.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped what should’ve been a go-ahead 51-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter and Justin Watson couldn’t catch a fourth-and-25 pass that went through his hands to seal Kansas City’s 21-17 loss to Philadelphia on Monday night.
After seeing Owens’ impact on McNabb and the Eagles, Reid began to prioritize wide receivers. He drafted DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin in Philly, brought Maclin to Kansas City and hit a home run on Hill in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft.
But the Chiefs (7-3) didn’t replace Hill after trading the All-Pro receiver to Miami before last season and they went on to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl anyway. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the wide receivers with 78 catches for 933 yards while Kelce had 110 catches for 1,338 yards.
Smith-Schuster left in free agency and Kansas City selected Rashee Rice in the second round of the draft to help fill the void this season. Rice leads the wide receivers with 36 receptions for 420 yards through 10 games. He wasn’t much of a factor on Monday, catching four balls for 42 yards. Watson had five receptions on 11 targets for 53 yards and one TD. Valdes-Scantling had no catches on three targets, including the costly drop.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 26 drops this season. They have the fewest second-half points in the league, including zero in the past three games.
Of course, it’s not all on the receivers. They had two turnovers —Mahomes’ interception and Kelce’s fumble — in the red zone against Philadelphia.
The Chiefs already have as many losses as last season when they won their seventh straight AFC West title and hosted the conference title game for the fifth consecutive year. They’ve got a much-improved defense that will help overcome the offense’s deficiencies, but Mahomes needs a reliable outside threat to catch the deep ball and make big plays.
The Chiefs visit the Las Vegas Raiders (5-6) on Sunday after falling a half-game behind Baltimore for the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
It took the New York Jets 10 games to realize Zach Wilson isn’t a playoff-caliber starting quarterback.
They already knew that when they made a blockbuster trade to get Aaron Rodgers. But once Rodgers went down in Week 1 with a torn Achilles tendon, the Jets went back to Wilson instead of seeking a more accomplished quarterback.
Now, they’re turning to Tim Boyle, who was 0-3 as a starter with Detroit in 2021. Trevor Siemian will back him up when the Jets (4-6) host Miami (7-3) in the first Black Friday game.
Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, will be relegated to third string after being benched for the third time in two seasons and it’s uncertain whether he’ll have a future with the Jets.
The Lions rallied from a 12-point deficit with 4:29 left to beat the Chicago Bears in a game where Jared Goff threw three interceptions and the defense allowed Justin Fields to run for 104 yards.
It was the type of comeback that could help Detroit (8-2) down the line in the playoffs. They overcame adversity, poor play and still found a way to win. The Lions have a quick turnaround before hosting the Packers on Thanksgiving. They have their best record since 1962 and are on their way to reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Detroit’s top goal is to end the NFL’s longest playoff win drought. It’s been 31 years since Barry Sanders led the Lions to a postseason win over Dallas.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley sounds as if he knows his tenure is ending.
Staley got defensive after a 23-20 loss at Green Bay dropped Los Angeles to 4-6. He insisted he will continue calling the defensive plays for a unit that ranks 31st in the league.
The Chargers have underachieved in Staley’s third season after wasting a 27-0 lead in a playoff loss last season. They host the Ravens (8-3) on Sunday night and can’t afford another loss if they’re to have any chance of getting back into the playoff race.