To begin 1983, the Chiefs fired head coach Marv Levy on January 4 after compiling a 31–42 record. Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach John Mackovic was named the fifth head coach in team history on February 2. The 39-year-old Mackovic became the youngest individual ever to hold that post for the club. The Chiefs held the seventh overall pick in the quarterback-laden 1983 NFL Draft and selected Todd Blackledge. The five other signal-callers selected in the first round that year included John Elway, Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O'Brien, and Dan Marino.
With Bill Kenney and Todd Blackledge both on the roster, starting Steve Fuller was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on August 19. Kenney earned a Pro Bowl berth after racking up a franchise-record 4,348 passing yards, while wide receiver Carlos Carson hauled in 80 passes for 1,351 yards. Despite the team's high-flying passing game, head coach John Mackovic had trouble finding a suitable replacement for Joe Delaney and the running back position. The highest scoring contest in franchise history took place as the Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks combined for 99 points in a wild, 51–48 overtime loss at the Kingdome. A meager crowd of 11,377 attended the club's season-ending 48–17 win against Denver on December 18, the smallest attendance figure ever for a Chiefs game at Arrowhead as the club finished the year at 6–10.