Everything else is interesting but, ultimately, the goal is to win the Super Bowl. The Chiefs have proven they can do so behind QB Patrick Mahomes and their legendary coach Andy Reid. They have also proven they can do so in a variety of ways but one thing, besides coach and quarterback, has remained the same:
Kansas City has won, primarily, with change-of-direction (COD) and speed players at wide receiver.
The second part of that sentence makes sense to most fans. They’ve seen Tyreek Hill and other fast players become important parts of offenses. The problem is, for most fans and media, size is still considered a requirement of a top-flight receiver despite enough proof that it isn’t required at all.
Bigger receivers can do certain things very well but rarely are they good change-of-direction players. That isn’t to minimize what players like DK Metcalf and others can do but it is to simply point out that bigger receivers, like the smaller COD ones, have limitations.
Last night’s Super Bowl showed just how important the ability to change direction is. We saw it with Kadarius Toney’s punt return but we also saw it with two of the Chiefs’ three receiving touchdowns. In similar plays, first Toney comes in motion and immediately pivots at the snap to break out for a wide-open touchdown:
The perfect man coverage play that relied on great timing, previous use of jet motion and shallow crossing routes but that was able to be called because of Toney’s ability to change direction so quickly. Even if Philadelphia was in zone, Toney’s COD would have likely led this to be a touchdown.
We then saw an almost identical play on the other side of the formation later in the game when Skyy Moore pivoted at the snap and was wide open. While part of the success of both plays was understanding the Eagles’ defensive plan, Reid and company were confident in Toney and Moore to get open.
The Browns have talented players at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Add TE David Njoku and RB Nick Chubb to the mix and four of the five “skilled” position players are solid to very good for Cleveland.
What they are missing is exactly what the two above plays show, the ability to change direction with acceleration at any moment.
DPJ has straight line speed. Cooper is a crafty veteran with overall skills. Njoku is a big, athletic talent. Anthony Schwartz is straight ahead fast. David Bell’s athletic testing left a lot to be desired. Michael Woods II agility score was poor.
Veteran return man Jakeem Grant showed some change of direction skill but will be returning from an Achilles injury that can be difficult for players in the middle of their career.
Cleveland has needs in a variety of places but on offense the biggest need is a player who can stop on a dime and pivot the other direction as quickly as Toney and Moore did above. Not size, not speed but quickness and acceleration are the key components GM Andrew Berry should be looking for this offseason.