Travis Kelce Continues to Evolve — Even in His Eighth NFL Season
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce didn't necessarily have the best statistical performance in a 43-16 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. That didn't seem to bother him.
Kelce still found a way to make an impact outside of his three catches for a season-low 31 yards, as he was still a core member of the Chiefs' offense.
That outcome was all a part of the offensive minds of head coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and tight ends coach Tom Melvin, as Kelce told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.
“At the tight end position, you’re asked to do so many things,” Kelce said. “You’ll see me split out wide singled up like a wide receiver. In the Buffalo game and in previous games, you see me in the backfield. I’ve also played in-line tight end also to the H-back tight end or the adjuster, as we call it in this offense, to where you can kind of move me around and just put me anywhere.”
When fullback Anthony Sherman was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list two weeks ago, the Chiefs asked Kelce to take on additional responsibilities in terms of blocking. That’s put Kelce in the backfield on a handful of plays, filling in for the Chiefs’ lone fullback, but that's hardly the extent of Kelce's role.
“In this offense, you definitely have to be a smart football player no matter what position you’re playing,” Kelce said. “The tight end position tends to get moved around a lot more than others, which means you have to be that much more locked into the game plan and what we’re trying to get done.”
Through Week 7, Kelce is tied for first amongst NFL tight ends in receptions (40) and touchdowns (5). He has an outright lead in yardage (501).
In terms of the Chiefs, Kelce leads the team in receptions and yardage, sitting ahead of wide receiver Tyreek Hill (31 receptions, 439 yards, five touchdowns). The duo has shared the top spots for the bulk of their careers in Kansas City. Kelce has been amongst the top two targets since he became a contributor in 2014 — three seasons before quarterback Patrick Mahomes entered the picture.
“He's hard for a defense to account for," Mahomes said. "When you have guys like Tyreek and Trav and these guys who can mismatch with other guys, it helps out the entire offense. I think that whenever you don’t see these huge receiving yards, some games you don’t understand how they’re impacting the game, being the players that they are.”
Against the Broncos, Kelce was targeted three times and hauled in all three passes. He was on the field through 14 of the first team's 15 rushing plays and 100% of the 26 passes before quarterback Chad Henne took control in the fourth quarter.
Kelce said he embraces the numerous roles that come being with a tight end, even if that means touching the ball less, like he did last week.
“I’m technically the utility guy on the field,” Kelce said. “Whether you need a plumber or an electrician, man, I'm here for you. Whatever the coaches and the guys on this team need me to do, I feel like throughout the week I hone in on those fundamentals, I focus on my job and what I have to do to help make this offense click whether that’s playing fullback, playing wideout or getting back there and running a wildcat and playing QB.”