They say records were made to be broken. That goes doubly so for tight ends in the National Football League. When you’re a tight end that basically plays slot wide receiver, that’s a virtual certainty.
That said, I can’t help but notice some striking differences between Kelce’s record-setting season this year and Kittle’s history-making 2018. First of all, Kittle only needed 88 catches to break the record that Rob Gronkowski set in 2011. Kelce has 105 this year, and even Gronk needed 90 when he set the record.
Second, and obviously more importantly, Travis Kelce is catching passes from the best quarterback on the planet, while George Kittle had to deal with Jimmy Garoppolo for three games, Nick Mullens for eight games, and CJ Beathard for three games. The difference between Patrick Mahomes and the three quarterbacks I just named cannot accurately be put into words. Let’s just say one throws no-look passes and the others throw passes you don’t want to look at.
(You can hear more about Kelce’s record and another milestone for Frank Gore in today’s Stats & Eggs Podcast. Click play below)
None of this is to say that Travis Kelce doesn’t deserve credit for what he’s done, or that he isn’t an amazing player. He clearly is. I just happen to consider George’s year in 2018 to be more impressive, especially considering he was the entire offense that year. Defenses were building their entire gameplan to stop number 85 and they still couldn’t do it. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce is surrounded by Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Le’Veon Bell, and on, and on, and on.
For now, cheers to Travis Kelce. You earned the record this year. Just don’t get too comfortable because the People’s Tight End is going to make another run at it in 2021.