(TNS) — Last Sunday is what the Chiefs had in mind when they identified Tyreek Hill as the team’s top wide receiver.
Hill, a former Garden City Community College football player, had some nice games and big moments before the Chiefs’ road loss to the New York Jets last Sunday, but never a game quite like this. His six receptions produced 185 yards, the most by a Chiefs player since Jamaal Charles in 2013 and the most by a Chiefs wide receiver since Dwayne Bowe in 2010.
Two of Hill’s receptions from Alex Smith went for touchdowns of 79 and 40 yards, and he had another 40-yard reception in the game.
Days like that, Hill said, should be more the norm than the exception.
“I’m capable of that every week,” Hill said. “I’ll always believe in myself. I always believe in Alex to get me the ball.”
The production wasn’t enough to lift the Chiefs to a victory, but it helped pull the Chiefs from a dreadful offensive slump that contributed to their skid of six losses in seven games.
“We attacked,” Hill said. “Everything was clicking.”
For Hill, that meant taking full advantage of his gifts. He’s considered the NFL’s fastest player and his breakaway speed was on display last season from several positions, including running back and kick returner.
Those duties have mostly been reduced this season to wide receiver and punt returns. Hill returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown against the Houston Texans, but teams have been kicking away from him more often this season.
Hill’s best opportunities to use his speed have been to shoot past defenders, and he did on both scores against the Jets — Hill’s first game of multiple touchdown receptions.
“I just smile,” Hill said when he knows his number is being called. “I don’t try to get to emotional and be obvious. I just go out and do my job.”
He has excellent hands, and Hill has worked on his route running, along with understanding that he and Kelce are primary focus of opposing defenses.
“The biggest challenge is to understand he is a marked man every game as a wide receiver,” offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. “They’re putting in game plans for him.”
Hill’s effort against the Jets marked the third 100-yard receiving game of his career, with all recorded this season. For the year, he has 60 receptions — one fewer than all of last season — and 911 yards. Last week’s big game pushed his yards-per-reception average to 15.2, compared to 9.7 in 2016.
These are the numbers the Chiefs must have envisioned when they released veteran wideout Jeremy Maclin in May.
And Hill says there’s more in the tank for the offense.
“I feel like we can get better,” Hill said. “I thought we could have scored on every possession (against the Jets).”
After a stretch where the Chiefs scored one touchdown in losses to the Giants and Bills, the Chiefs will take improvement where they can get it, even shaking up the play-calling as they did last week with Nagy handling more of the duties.
Perhaps it’s one step at a time.
Last week, Smith, Hill and Kelce were on the same page. But the running game continued to get stuffed. Remove Smith’s 70-yard run and the Chiefs generated just 42 yards on the ground. Not sustaining drives by failing to pick up first downs was a key issue against the Jets, who held a 43-17 advantage in time of possession.
“We’re trying to score points,” Smith said. “If every play was a home run, we’d do that.”
With Hill, that opportunity can often present itself.