Maybe it’s the optimism from the first week of Chiefs offseason practice, or maybe it’s that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has removed his muzzle and is showing more of the trademark bravado he was known for early in his career.
Either way, Bowe on Wednesday laid some heavy expectations on himself and his offensive teammates — running back Jamaal Charles in particular. Bowe predicted that he would lead the NFL next season in receptions and touchdowns and Charles would lead in rushing yardage.
Bowe also suggested that the Chiefs would be one of the NFL’s better offensive teams.
“It’s only day two,” he said after practice. “Guys are trying their best every day. Every day is not going to be right, but if we can minimize mistakes from yesterday to today and tomorrow, we’ll take another step forward. By training camp, guys will be great.
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“When we get in full gear and pads and close to the season, it’s going to be a show to watch.”
That would be a dramatic change for the Chiefs, who have been one of the league’s worst offensive teams in each of the past two seasons.
The Chiefs added some key pieces to their offense, including quarterback Alex Smith, tackle Eric Fisher, wide receiver Donnie Avery and tight end Anthony Fasano. Bowe pinned much of his optimism to the presence of Smith, who was the NFL’s highest-rated passer last season for the 49ers before he was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick.
“Just watching Steve Young back in the day, he’s that kind of guy,” Bowe said, comparing Smith to Young, now a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He’s not too vocal with it, but when he’s in the huddle, he lets his presence be known. He’s demanding of guys … I’ve never had a quarterback like that. Matt Cassel was a great quarterback, but when you talk about demanding perfection from everybody, even the defense, that’s a step toward being great.”
Bowe is also encouraged by the hiring of new head coach Andy Reid, who many times had one of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams during his 14 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Big Red, he’s demanding perfection,” Bowe said, referring to Reid. “If you want to be a championship team, that’s what you’ve got to demand. Guys are coming out here and minimizing mistakes every day, so that’s a step toward being great.
“We’re progressing. It’s one day at a time. Yesterday was the first day. Today was the second day, and we got better.”
Bowe led the league in touchdown catches in 2010 with 15, so that part of his prediction doesn’t seem so outrageous. But his career high in receptions came in 2008, when he had 86. That was only good for 10th in the league.
As to what will be different for him this year in Reid’s offense, Bowe said, “A lot of big plays, a lot of down-the-field passes. That’s something I didn’t catch (many of) in my career. It’s going to be a lot of conditioning.
“I’m going to tire a lot of cornerbacks out because we’re going hurry-up offense every day, practicing full speed, fast, hurry-up offense, and that’s something that’s going to catch the defense off guard, and that’s going to open up a lot of big plays down the field for the receivers and for the running game.”
Charles rushed for a career-high 1,509 yards last year in a season when he was coming off a major knee injury and the resulting surgery. But Reid’s offenses in Philadelphia were heavy on the pass. He likes to throw to the backs with screens and other types of passes, but the Eagles never had a back lead the league in rushing in any of their seasons that were coached by Reid.
Six times, an Eagles player rushed for more than 1,000 yards under Reid, but other times, rushing yards were scarce in Philadelphia. Quarterback Donovan McNabb was their rushing leader one season.
Bowe shrugged all that off, saying, “Once we get open and get the ball deep, it’s only going to make it easier for him.”
The Chiefs haven’t ignored Charles as a receiver. Twice he had at least 40 catches in a season and caught 35 passes last year. But his role could be changing.
“Whatever my role is in this offense, I’ve got to adjust to it,” Charles said. “If it’s having me catch out of the backfield or having me run the ball, I’ve just got to adjust to it.”