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Friday, September 5, 2014
Chiefs' success tied to that of their TEs

By Adam Teicher

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- I’m going to make a statistical prediction here, one that I believe will go a long way toward determining whether the Kansas City Chiefs make the playoffs or not this season.

Here goes: If their tight ends catch 80 or more passes this season, the Chiefs will be in the playoffs. Anything less and it’s going to be difficult for the Chiefs to reach the postseason again.

The importance of the tight end to the Chiefs’ success can’t be understated. Realistically, that is the one place the Chiefs can turn to for significant offensive growth, more realistic than Jamaal Charles or their wide receivers.

But it’s reasonable to expect it from Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano and Demetrius Harris as long as they remain healthy.

The tight end has traditionally been an important figure in Andy Reid’s offense.

"I think you can go back through coach Reid’s offense and his history and try to track those numbers," Fasano said. "I haven’t, but I think they’re pretty consistent and pretty strong."

That changed last season. One of the three tight ends the Chiefs were counting on, Kelce, didn’t play a snap, and Fasano missed half the season because of injuries.

The Chiefs patched together a group of tight ends, led by Sean McGrath. But they caught only 53 passes, fewer than the tight ends for all but two other teams. The league average for tight ends was 73, and 11 individual tight ends had more than 53 catches.

The Chiefs need to do much better there this season. Kelce showed his big-play ability during the preseason. When he was in the lineup last season, Fasano quietly was a reliable red zone target for quarterback Alex Smith.

If Harris has developed as the Chiefs hope he has, he could put the tight ends over the 80-catch mark. A basketball player in college, Harris looks a lot more like a football player than he did when he joined the Chiefs last year.

"I’m not sure I’ve seen a player come that far along that quickly," Fasano said.

An increase in offensive production is essential for the Chiefs, who as they learned last season can’t count on their defense to carry them. I’m not suggesting it can’t come from Charles or the wide receivers, but tight end is a far more likely place.