The Denver Broncos shut down Travis Kelce for half a game and he still ended up as Kansas City’s top receiver. Here’s how to stop him moving forward.
Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce knows when he lines up against the Denver Broncos, he’ll be able to pad the stat sheet. In his five-year career against Denver, Kelce has 683 yards, on 49 career receptions and three touchdowns.
Losing track of a 6’6″ 260-pound tight end running down the field is almost impossible to do, but that’s what the Broncos have done against Kelce. In just one game last year against Denver, Kelce had seven catches, 107 yards, and a touchdown.
Denver’s defense over the years has been known to bracket any premier player they knew could hurt them on any given play. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has found a way to not only keep the defense guessing but keep getting the ball in Kelce’s hands.
With Kelce’s ability to rack up yards after the catch, Kansas City has been known to push his routes closer to the numbers. Linebackers are usually to slow to hold him in front of them while safeties are too small to hold him, which is why Kelce can run any route on the field.
Denver, on the other hand, is a different breed of defense. It’s usually a team effort and combination of players who get the task of holding the six-year pro and the Broncos utilized everyone including their best cover man, Chris Harris Jr., against Kelce in coverage.
Andy Reid will continue to push Kelce’s routes deep and closer to the numbers where while also lining him up in as many different positions across the field. Getting Kelce in open space through screens and rub routes has brought the Chiefs success over the years against Denver.
How can Denver stop Kelce moving forward after they limited him to almost no production in an entire half, and he still ended up leading the Chiefs in receiving?
To stop Kelce, the Broncos will have to keep him in the middle of the field, where the help is. To do that, Denver is going to have to do something that almost sounds foreign in the Mile High City — play some zone.
If the linebackers can get some help over the top, the pressure won’t be strictly on Brandon Marshall or Davis but instead everybody on the back end.
The Broncos can’t get caught up in proving something to the media. Throughout the week, the media harped on Kelce’s success against Denver. Not allowing the narrative to dictate this particular matchup going forward is going to be big for the team.
The biggest way to stop Kelce — and the Chiefs’ offense as a whole — is leaving them on the bench. Despite the fact that the Broncos led by 10 points late in the fourth quarter of this game, the Chiefs still dominated time of possession, and the Broncos’ defense broke late.
If Case Keenum and the Broncos can put together some long productive drives at crunch time, it will obviously take the pressure off of the defense.