Travis Kelce is a budding superstar in the NFL who could potentially help lead the Kansas City Chiefs to the promised land in the near future. He can catch. He can block. He can dance. Come on, who doesn’t like the ferocity and charm he brings to the table. I am willing to bet that there are 31 other teams in the NFL who would love to have Mr. Kelce catching the ball for them.
I could go on and on about his on-field antics — he threw his own flag at a ref for Heaven’s sake! — and off-field distractions. He truly is a spectacular player and has the stats to back that up. My question is this, how great is he really? As a catching tight end, he is one of the best. As a blocker, he is more than willing to throw down and punish a defender. But really, how great is he?
When I think of greatness on the gridiron I think of a player who is so good he makes those around him look better. That great player should be able to elevate the play of all of his teammates. Think of Peyton Manning. He went to the Disgusting Denver Donkeys. Before Manning showed up Denver was never spoken of as contenders. One player signing later and they are considered Super Bowl Favorites. One player. That’s all it took. Now, granted Manning is an otherworldly quarterback able to dissect a defense in the blink of an eye but still, one player? Denver had a great defense and a mediocre offense. Sure they had a few playmakers but nothing in the way of an elite. One player put them over the top and they immediately became media darlings.
Why am I talking so much about Denver on a Kansas City site you ask? I think Travis Kelce could become a similar level of greatness. Let’s look at past years.
Travis Kelce was drafted in the third round of the 2013 draft. Looking back, he was an absolute steal. With his current production, he could easily have gone in the first round.
- In 2013 Kelce played in one game during the season and was placed on injured reserve.
- In 2014 Kelce racked up 862 yards on 67 receptions averaging almost 13 yards a catch. That was good enough to place him 5th for the year in ypc. Not too bad for his first true season as a pro.
- In 2015 he managed 72 catches for 875 yards with a slight dip in production amounting to just under 12 yards per catch, good enough to put him 8th in the league.
- 2016 is where we see him shine. Coming in tied for second in the league at 13.4 ypc with 1125 yards on 85 catches. What many don’t realize is that he led the league in receiving yards and had the second most receptions of all tight ends in the league. Kelce also ruled the land with 634 yards after the catch marking him the best of everyone at his position.
A third round draft pick, it’s phenomenal that Travis Kelce put up these numbers. During plays in which Kelce was on the field, production rose for all of the Chiefs offensive playmakers. It could be that defenses were keying in on Kelce since he is a horrible mismatch for anyone covering him. It could also be that his teammates felt a certain level of confidence, call it swagger with him on the field with them.
Everyone on the team knew that no matter what the play was called, Kelce was going to do his job to his best ability. Sure sometimes he gets fired up and can be hot headed but would you rather have someone complacent with losing and mediocrity of someone who is genuinely in love with the game. Let’s break down some games where Kelce’s influence helped swing things in the Chiefs favor.
Travis Kelce vs Earl Thomas
Way back when Travis Kelce was still a bit of an unknown, defenses weren’t quite sure what to do with him. As a 6’6″ 260 pound tight end he was obviously a mismatch and was covered well but on obvious running downs, he was left to roam free.
The Seattle Seahawks Legion of Boom was considered the hottest defense in town and one of the first groups to fall victim to the Kelce effect. Jamaal Charles was given the handoff and looking for an open lane while speeding out of the backfield. After what seemed like an eternity he was able to slip free between the center and left guard.
Out of nowhere Earl Thomas, one of the best safeties in the league, came storming in and had Charles dead to rights. This would surely be a decent gain of 5-to-10 yards if not for Kelce (see below). Our TE burst into Charles’ running lane and quickly closed on Thomas. One solid hit later Earl was sent sky surfing never knowing what hit him. The best part is that Kelce, after de-cleating Thomas, was still on his feet looking for the next block he would need to make to keep the play alive.
— Blair! (@PaperBlairPlane) March 5, 2015
Travis Kelce vs Darian Stewart
Remember when Tyreek Hill ran for a 70-yard touchdown against the Denver Broncos and all was right with the world? That would have never happened if it were not for Mr. Kelce. With 5:29 left in the 1st quarter Andy Reid has a running play dialed up for our hybrid receiver/RB/punt returner. It’s first and ten on the Chiefs 30-yard line and Kelce is brought in motion from the left to the right side of the line. As soon as he is set Smith snaps the ball and immediately turns around and puts it into the hands of our speedy back.
While this is happening Kelce is pulling back across the line to the left to help pave the way for the small running behind him. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif quickly sets the edge in front of Kelce leaving Darian Stewart with a direct line of sight to Hill. Enter Kelce. #87 cuts inside of Hill to help alleviate the closing defender. Stewart didn’t see it coming and was pancaked by Kelce. Travis kept his legs moving and was able to slow down Chris Harris Jr. enough to allow Tyreek to dash down the sideline all the way for a touchdown.
Best of luck trying to tackle this guy. 🏁 https://t.co/BH5AU6Q9ZK
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 26, 2016
Travis Kelce vs Justin Simmons
Another Denver game, another Kelce block that opens the way for a score. Alex Smith snaps the ball and runs the option in the RedZone on the 10 yard line. After presenting a beautiful fake handoff to Spencer Ware that almost everyone in the stadium bit on Smith darts to the left side of the line with only one defender left in the vicinity.
Luckily for Alex, our man Kelce has his back. Locking in tight on a block against #31 Justin Simmons #87 refuses to allow his quarterback to be even grazed by an opponent’s outstretched pinky finger. After sealing the edge and presenting a wide open field you could drive a Mack truck through Smith was able to take a brisk walk straight to paydirt with nary a strand of hair out of place. Touchdown KAN-SAS CITY! (Sorry I was trying to go for the Mitch Holthus sound. You just re-read that in his voice didn’t you?)
These are just a few examples of what the Chiefs have in #87. A selfless blocker, a legitimate receiving threat, a home run hitter, and a fabulous dancer. All of those rolled into one. Travis Kelce is exactly what Chiefs fans need: a passionate player who will help the team in any way he can.
Well, guys, that’s all for now. Comment below and as always VIVA LA JET SWEEP and GO CHIEFS!
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