It is another year — and another string of key offseason departures for the Kansas City Chiefs.
In today’s NFL, player turnover is par for the course. But the exits of safety Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver Tyreek Hill from the organization made for a feeling of bigger change ahead of 2022.
Amidst the yearly change that seemingly happens on the offensive side of the football, two constants have remained since 2013: the presence of head coach Andy Reid and tight end Travis Kelce. Speaking to the media on Monday, Kelce thought back to his initial NFL seasons.
“When I first got here, we had Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles,” remembered Kelce. “Those were our two weapons that we knew we could go to. With those two, a lot of the stuff we were doing was run game stuff — and it was play action. Outside of that, Alex Smith was really good at running two-minute tempo or turbo tempo, where we would get up to the line.
“That whole package has changed. So it’s night-and-day different from when I first got here. I definitely was a more hand-in-the-ground tight end back then, but now it’s evolved to — we can get that ball anywhere on the field at any moment.”
Over the years, Kelce watched the offense evolve to include more of... well, himself. Then there was wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. As Mahomes took the reins at quarterback, running back Kareem Hunt held a critical role. Next was the championship run for Kelce, Hill and Watkins.
As the names and faces changed, so too did the offensive schemes and strategies. Kelce says that is what has made Reid so consistently successful.
“Every season’s different,” said Kelce. “Every group of players that we have is different. That’s why I think the offense always has those little tweaks. And I’ve had the fortune of seeing all the things turn over and change. I think that naturally, I get excited every single week to see what’s new in this offense, knowing that the possibilities are endless. The type of players we have here, we can do so much with it that it’s just kind of like. ‘Pick your poison.’”
After Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins, the Chiefs added veteran wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling — and then, rookie wideout Skyy Moore — providing Reid with a list of new weapons to maneuver about his playsheet.
Daily training camp sessions offer Reid an opportunity to install everything he has been cooking up in the offseason. Then when it’s time for a game — like Saturday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears — he narrows the plays to make it easy for his Chiefs to play fast... without thinking.
“You can’t feasibly use all of those and expect the guys to go out and execute in a game with that, so we cut it down so that they could actually go perform at a high level,” explained Reid. “We can do better with what we showed the other night. And that was the thing with that third group and the fourth guys that came in. The execution there? They have to feel that urgency to knock that thing out and understand it and master it in the couple days that they have to review it...
“Why do I like it? Because you have an opportunity to see what their talents are. At the same time, they’ve got to be able to — in that 30 or so seconds — figure out what the play is and get up and go and perform at a high level.”
In addition to a deeper, more balanced wide receiver room, the Chiefs have three tight ends (beyond Kelce) who can catch the football. In a potent offense, it was Blake Bell catching the touchdown Saturday before exiting the game due to a hip injury.
Kelce explained that despite losing Hill, 2022’s offense isn’t necessarily drastically different than it was in 2021. According to Sharp Football, the Chiefs ran 11-personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) two-thirds of the time in 2021.
Against the Bears, the first-team offense solely ran 21-personnel (two running backs, one tight end, two receivers) in its 11 plays.
if you want any more hints that the Chiefs are going full circle with their offense. Here was the main formation they used in the first series during the first preseason game: pic.twitter.com/MJzieQcOuy— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) August 14, 2022
It is only the preseason, but it sounds like life could be changing in 2022.
“There’s a lot more personnel to put guys in certain situations,” said Kelce. “In terms of the turnover on offense, you’re always going to have new stuff. That’s what [Reid] specializes at — making you think about what we’ve shown on film and what we could possibility run out of it. I think we just keep evolving like that. We’ll be just fine.”
Kelce added that in 2022, there will be more accountability for the offensive line — considering that the unit’s five projected members — Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Andrew Wylie — have played together for a year.
Mahomes — the former NFL and Super Bowl MVP — continues to improve, too.
“What Pat’s able to do is keep developing,” said Kelce. “He keeps finding ways to get better as a quarterback. That, by far, is what’s made this offense take off and go into more of a passing offense than what we had in the past.”
Kelce knows that a pass-first offense — and the proper weapons in place to run it — makes his head coach happy.
“I know coach Reid has a blast with doing that, too,” Kelce added. “It’s exciting. I accept the challenge of having so much to put on myself, so much put on us to be able to go out there and perform.”
So look at that: the players are accepting the challenge.
Reid, of course, is looking forward to it.
Chiefs Training Camp Report - Monday, August 15 - Day 14 https://t.co/sFYGplkVrq— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) August 15, 2022
- Did not practice (due to injury): OL Lucas Niang (knee), Blake Bell (hip flexor)
- Left early: K Harrison Butker (ankle)
Tweet of the day
Danny Shelton is a big man.
Quote of the day
Tight end Travis Kelce, on his new cereal (Kelce’s Krunch) compared to Patrick Mahomes’ cereal: “It might not have any magic in it, but it’s pretty good.”
The Chiefs continue their final week of training camp on Tuesday with another padded practice. It begins at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Here’s the complete schedule. Wide receivers and tight ends will be available to sign autographs as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo addresses the media at the podium.