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ArrowChop: Since Kelce broke the TE receiving yard record, is the Kelce-Kittle debate over?

With Kelce breaking Kittle’s tight end receiving yards record, is the Kelce-Kittle debate utterly finished?

Hello again everyone and welcome to another week of the ArrowChop! This is the column where we look at the positives/negatives of a certain Chiefs/NFL issue and look at both sides of the aisle. Then you, the readers, will come to your conclusions after I lay out the case. So sit back, relax, and enjoy as we breakdown this week’s hot topic.

While Sunday’s game was questioning by multiple fans and analysts, one player truly shined above all, and that was Travis Kelce. He had seven catches for 98 yards and a touchdown as he averaged 14 yards per reception. This showing put him over 1377 receiving yards, which broke the record set by George Kittle in 2018 for the most receiving yards by a tight end in an NFL season. He’s also the league leader in receiving yards with 1416 yards, and if he has another bout like this, he’ll secure the receiving yards lead. With the best tight end season under-wraps, is the Kittle-Kelce debate on who’s the better tight end officially over, or are there still bases to argue on? Let’s break down both sides of the aisle to find out:

The debate is over

This firstly falls upon the fact that the comparison between 2017-2020 (2017 is when Kittle began his NFL career) tilts highly towards Kelce in terms of “the #1 tight end in the league”. Let’s compare stats since then:

Side note: I’m starting at 2017 to make things more fair and comparable in the argument.

2017:

  • Kelce: 83 receptions, 1038 yards, 12.5 yards per reception, 8 touchdowns, 68% catch percentage (W)
  • Kittle: 43 receptions, 515 yards, 12 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns, 68.3% catch percentage

This year was clearly obvious. Kittle only started seven games, but even if he did start the whole season, Kelce would’ve still been ahead of him.

2018:

  • Kelce: 103 receptions, 1336 yards, 13 yards per reception, 10 touchdowns, 68.7% catch percentage
  • Kittle: 88 receptions, 1377 yards, 15.6 yards per reception, 5 touchdowns, 64.7% catch percentage (W)

Kittle did a lot more with a lot fewer receptions than Kelce, but he didn’t catch as many passes as Kelce did, so this could be argued either-or way. Both players held the record, but in the end, Kittle came away with it. This season goes to Kittle.

2019:

  • Kelce: 97 receptions, 1229 yards, 12.7 yards per reception, 5 touchdowns, 71.3% catch percentage (W)
  • Kittle: 85 receptions, 1053 yards, 12.4 yards per reception, 5 touchdowns, 79.4% catch percentage

Kelce obviously had a better year here and I don’t understand how Kittle made all-pro honors instead of him, but at the end of the day, it’s all right. Kelce had more receptions, yards, and yards per reception that year, they tied with touchdowns, and the only stat Kittle had over him was catch percentage on fewer targets (Kelce had 137, Kittle had 107).

2020:

This season I don’t even need to list stats to prove my point. Kelce broke Kittle’s record, he’s currently sitting at #1 in receiving yards, he had a 100 reception year, and he has 11 receiving touchdowns on the year. Kittle has been injured for a majority of the season, only playing seven games, but he hasn’t amassed at least half of what Kelce has in those games. Kelce wins this season in the debate.

Fans must also recognize the accolades Kelce has over Kittle. In those four years (2017-2020), Kelce has four pro bowls when Kittle has two, Kelce has one 1st-Team-All-Pro (2018) (two in near future, but we have to wait to confirm it) and Kittle has one (2019). In those years, Kelce clearly has the advantage. Records wise, Kelce has broken Kittle’s record for most receiving yards by a tight end, and Kelce is the only tight end with multiple 100-reception seasons (2018 and 2020). Also, Kelce is about to pass Jason Witten for the second-most receptions in a season by a tight end. I think it’s clear to see that the record books sway in Kelce’s favor.

The debate isn’t over

This comes to terms with blocking. While Kelce has improved his run and pass blocking for the Chiefs’ offense when he’s not running insane routes or bodying defenders with ease, Kittle is better than Kelce with that. Kittle thrived in Iowa’s (the college he graduated from) run-heavy offense, which forced him to become a spectacular blocker. He has a physical prowess the league loves to see daily; but, this is not to shine down on Kelce. Kelce blocks well for Kittle, but Kittle does have the edge with this.

This side also believes that we shouldn’t count the debate out yet due to his injury. Kittle still has time to prove he is the best in the league, and that while 2020 may not be his year, he still has more years to follow through. This point has its downs, however, due to durability and other factors like that, but it still holds to an extent.

Do you think the debate is set in stone, or is the case still open? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion. Thanks for reading, and have a fantastic day!

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