KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The count of regular-season games without a touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs' wide receivers is at 17 after Jeremy Maclin and others were held without a score in last week's season opener in Houston.
Dexter McCluster, listed as a running back but in fact a wide receiver, caught the last wideout touchdown on Dec. 29, 2013 against the San Diego Chargers on a two-yard pass from Chase Daniel. McCluster was lined up in the slot on the play.
If the Chiefs don't get any or many touchdown catches from Maclin, Albert Wilson or any of their other wide receivers, it doesn't kill their chances of beating the Denver Broncos on Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium, winning the AFC West or advancing in the playoffs.
It didn't hurt them in Houston. The Chiefs got two touchdown catches from tight end Travis Kelce and one from running back Jamaal Charles as they scored 27 points for the first time in a road game since a win in Miami last September.
And that's exactly why the Chiefs can survive without big touchdown numbers from Maclin and the other receivers. Having Kelce and Charles on their side will suppress the numbers.
Here are some great numbers here from ESPN Stats & Information. Their research shows that since late in the 2013 season, Chiefs wide receivers are last in the league in red zone targets (34), catches (23) and, of course, touchdowns.
But because they have Charles coming out of their backfield, the Chiefs' running backs lead the league over the same stretch in red zone targets (46), catches (38) and touchdowns (15). And if Charles or Kelce is going to get the touchdown, it doesn't matter that a wide receiver doesn't, unless of course he's on your fantasy team.
The Chiefs can certainly use all the receiving threats they can get, regardless of position. Maclin can still help the Chiefs without scoring many touchdowns. It's possible his presence on the field helped the Chiefs score those three touchdowns in Houston.
What the Chiefs need from Maclin and the other wide receivers are big plays. The lack of big plays, as I've written many times, is a bigger problem. The Chiefs were last in the league in pass plays of 25 yards or more last season and that's the reason they signed Maclin.
So if you're looking for a troubling sign from the Chiefs' passing game in Houston, it's not that Maclin didn't score a touchdown. It's that his longest catch was 20 yards.
That's what needs to change.