KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One thing to look for from the Kansas City Chiefs in Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium is how often they go to their multiple tight end formations. Chances are the more the Chiefs use backups Demetrius Harris and James O'Shaughnessy to go with starter Travis Kelce, the more successful they’ll be.
The Chiefs scored all three of their touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans with more than one tight end in the game. Quarterback Alex Smith was 5-of-10 for 87 yards, two touchdowns and had a passer rating of 120 utilizing two tight ends and 2-of-4 for 26 yards, one score and a rating of 110 when all three played at the same time.
The Chiefs’ two longest plays of the day, a 42-yard touchdown throw to Kelce and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin's 20-yard catch, came with two tight ends on the field.
The Chiefs were generally at their best offensively during the first half of last season when they were able to play Kelce, Harris and the since-departed Anthony Fasano at the same time. The Chiefs lost their ability to go with three tight ends at midseason when Harris broke his foot.
Though Harris and O’Shaughnessy aren’t the most polished of receivers, the two- and three-tight end alignments can be difficult for opponents to defend. If the opponent chooses to defend with bigger players, the Chiefs have been able to get their receivers open for bigger plays. If the opponent goes smaller, the Chiefs like their ability to run the ball.
It is interesting to note that against Houston, Smith was more accurate with one tight end in the game (12-of-16, 96 yards, 90 rating) and even none (3-of-3, 34 yards, 114 rating). But the Chiefs were more productive and made the plays to win the game when they went big on offense.