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Chiefs expect second-half improvement from wide receivers after recent drops

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No matter what, Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers know Patrick Mahomes is going to keep firing regardless of the group's recent drops.

"That's just who I am," Mahomes told reporters this past week.

But through 10 games and with K.C. coming off a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football that saw its receivers enter the spotlight with a few high-profile drops, Mahomes' propensity to remain confident in his group and keep delivering is paramount. Kansas City's pass-catching group has 19 drops this season (tied-fifth most in the NFL), and Mahomes is on his way, statistically, to one of his worst seasons.

The Chiefs receivers have combined for 12 drops this season (most in the NFL), per Next Gen Stats. The Chiefs are one of three teams that do not have a receiver with 450-plus yards this season, and they are the only team that has not had a wide receiver amass 85-plus yards in a game this season (season-high is 84 by Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Week 7).

As the Chiefs prepare for today's road game against the Las Vegas Raiders, sources say there is a strong sense of urgency about fixing it all -- and confidence that it's coming. The receivers have continued to do extra work on the JUGS machine post-practice, but physical work won't be the only answer.

On some of the drops, sources say, receivers have been a few feet off from the precise spot they are supposed to be, which is the spot where Mahomes is delivering the ball. That's just experience versus inexperience, which has contributed to a few drops, though sources say those sorts of issues are dramatically improving in practice and should translate in-game soon.

It's why there are high hopes that this young pass-catching group can turn it on for the stretch run.

Mahomes knows the team's focus is, as always, on protecting him and providing him with weapons. That was the case this offseason. To understand why the Chiefs have a young receiver group, however, it's helpful to take a look back at how they arrived at this roster.

After losing two starting offensive tackles (Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie), the Chiefs signed Jawaan Taylor and Donovan Smith to big-money deals during free agency. The free-agent receiver group wasn't considered great, with some of the veteran receivers, such as Odell Beckham and JuJu Smith-Schuster, who won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs last year not making the anticipated impact for their respective teams thus far this season.

Instead of signing a big-money receiver, the Chiefs spent that money on defenders Drue Tranquill, Charles Omenihu and Mike Edwards -- players who have helped transform the defense into a top unit.

Sources say the Chiefs tried to trade up in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft in order to select a receiver, but they couldn't get into the 20s. Kansas City did trade up in Round 2 for Rashee Rice, who has flashed potential during his rookie season.

With Chris Jones' new one-year deal and the extra money in Mahomes' reworked contract, finances are tight.

While some wondered if the Chiefs would make a move for a receiver at the league's Oct. 31 trade deadline, moving draft picks for a one-year rental isn't usually the method for sustained success.

That said, the team likes Rice and this young group, and if they stay healthy and minimize mistakes, they can be fine.

It's why Mahomes has publicly and privately maintained optimism, with the Chiefs controlling their own path to a possible No. 1 seed in the AFC.

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