After the Kansas City Chiefs announced their 53 man roster all eyes went to the tight end position where the Chiefs are keeping four players (for now) on the active roster.
Andy Reid likes his tight ends. We have seen him build Travis Kelce from the ground up into the best in the game, but he has always been a fan of the position. In the west coast offense that Reid has run for decades now, tight ends are important as they can be used very effectively in the short and intermediate passing game that the west coast is built on, as well as keep defenses honest by having them block during run plays.
In the past couple of seasons, the Chiefs have run a lot of “12 personnel” sets, which are plays that involve one running back, and two tight ends. We saw this a lot during the Chiefs 2020 Super Bowl Championship run, where they would line up Kelce in the slot, or have him motion across formations pre-snap to set up big plays. At the same time, they also saw Blake Bell line up with his hand in the dirt and do the dirty work of blocking, and grinding in the trenches.
Last season we saw less 12, which was mainly due to the Chiefs’ issues with the backup tight end position. Deon Yelder was not resigned to start this season, and Nick Keizer retired prior to the start of training camp.
Those moves opened up the current tight end situation for Kansas City.
Travis Kelce is the best tight end in football, and it’s not up for debate. The team quickly signed Bell back to the team within hours of free agency opening this offseason, giving them a good blocking end who can give Kelce a break from the play-to-play grind during run plays. The team re-iterated the point by drafting Noah Gray in the 5th round of the draft. Gray brings a unique combination of receiving talent, as well as versatility to the table. The team also had Jody Fortson, who spent the prior two seasons on the practice squad as a project headed into camp.
As the pre-season has wrapped up and the 53 man rosters have been set, all four of the players mentioned above have made the active roster.
This has opened up a chance for the team, and specifically Andy Reid to have some fun with the position this year.
This play is amazing for several reasons. Of course, Patrick Mahomes steals the show on a play we have seen the Chiefs run a million times, but it’s so fun to see how much size and athletic ability is on the field at a time.
Mahomes sets up the play by showing the ball to the left, which sucks down the defensive line and takes the linebacker’s eyes, while the running back heads for the flat, which takes a defender with him. Fortson runs the flag, and he commands the respect of the defense with his size and athletic ability. Noah Gray lined up out wide, and Kelce who is lined up as more of a wing after the motion both run over routes. The defense is now following Mahomes and the route runners, but Andy Reid had something up his sleeve.
Blake Bell has been in the NFL for six years now and never caught a regular-season touchdown. Guys don’t make it in the league that long, at that position unless they can block, and block Bell can.
He starts the play like any other, run play, getting into a backside combo with Lucas Niang, helping him rake over the defensive end into the B gap. No one on the field is paying attention to him, so as Mahomes continues to roll, he just takes a few steps to the inside and gets into the clear.
One throw later it’s six for the Chiefs.
It is entirely possible that we do not see all four tight ends suited up at the same time to start the season off, and if injuries and other roster moves occur we could see a shake-up with the unit.
That being said the fact that we have visual evidence of the Chiefs winning a rep with all four on the field at the same time is promising, and it opens up so many possibilities for this offense.
We have seen the Chiefs beat teams with speed, but with the addition of some 14 it opens up the opportunity for heavier packages and a chance to see the Chiefs pound teams with size and brute force, whether it be adding more bodies to the box to bully teams in the run game, or using the size and mismatches to create easy red-zone targets for Mahomes.
The possibilities are endless.