When Sammy Watkins returned to the field for the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it was the first time he had taken a snap since leaving the game in the Chiefs’ loss to the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 5. While Watkins caught just four passes for 38 yards in Tampa, his return should add yet another wrinkle in Kansas City’s already-explosive offense.
It may be hard to imagine the Chiefs’ offense becoming even more potent in the weeks to come, but most of the best games of the Patrick Mahomes era have come with the Chiefs’ full array of weapons on the field. Mahomes has certainly had plenty of success with a variety of pass-catchers, but the Chiefs prioritized Watkins this offseason when they restructured his contract and retained him on a one-year, $9 million deal in April.
Watkins played 72% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps in Tampa Bay, tying him with Demarcus Robinson and giving him significantly more work than Mecole Hardman, who took 30% of the offensive snaps.
On Wednesday, head coach Andy Reid said he was glad to begin to get Watkins reacclimated into the offense as the team prepares for the homestretch of the season.
“I thought it was good to get Sammy back in and just get him in the game to play,” Reid said. “He got in the two-minute and his numbers went up there a little bit, but it was great to get him back in the swing and working for the stretch down here. So, I thought that was a real positive.”
Mahomes also spoke about the Chiefs’ array of weapons returning to full health on Wednesday, highlighting the depth of the team’s offensive playmakers.
“Yeah, obviously getting those guys back and getting everybody comfortable within the offense, it helps us execute at a higher and higher level, and then having those guys helps take the pressure off of some of the other guys that have been producing so far this year,” Mahomes said. “That’s why you’re seeing guys like Kelce and Tyreek kind of starting to get off more and more later as the season goes on because when you have other playmakers out there, you can’t put all those guys on top of those guys, and when you do, we have guys like Sammy, Mecole, D-Rob, Clyde, Le’Veon that can all go out there and make plays as well.”
Watkins, a seven-year vet, said that he’s had to play a bit of catch-up to get back into the swing of the Chiefs’ offense that has thrived with and without him on the field.
“Those guys are rolling, so I’m just trying to catch up to their speed,” Watkins said. “I go out there and I’m like, ‘Man, dang, 10, you’ve got Demarcus Robinson, you’ve got everybody. Kemp, freaking Trav, everybody moving fast.’ I’ve got to catch up to that speed. The offense is going to continue to do what they’ve been doing without me or with me. I’m just trying to catch up and add my game and my style of play to the game and continue to go out there and have fun, play and keep winning games.”
Watkins won’t need to put up eye-popping stats anytime soon for the Chiefs to continue putting up Ws. As long as he’s fully reintegrated with the offense come playoff time, Kansas City can look to January — and potentially February — for the offense to be firing on all cylinders.