The Chiefs have the ideal tight end to take advantage of a high-powered offense, according the foremost authority on the matter.
Tony Gonzalez is one of the greatest to play the position. He spent 12 of his 17 NFL seasons with the Chiefs and left the game holding several records for tight ends.
Travis Kelce has taken dead aim at several of them.
As it should be, Gonzalez said.
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“A guy like Travis Kelce, a phenomenal athlete, an unbelievable talent and he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing in this offense,” Gonzalez said. “He’s setting records.”
Kelce got one of them Sunday in the Chiefs’ loss at Seattle. On the Chiefs’ first snap of the second half, Kelce went up into double coverage a pulled down a pass over the middle from Patrick Mahomes for a 23-yard gain.
That pushed Kelce past Tony Gonzalez’s team record of 1,258 receiving yards in a season. Kelce sits at 1,274 after the Seahawks game. The NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end in a season belongs to the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, who had 1,327 in 2011.
Among other records in Kelce’s sights is the team mark for receptions in a season, also held by Gonzalez. With five on Sunday, Kelce has 98. Gonzalez finished the 2004 season with 102.
The Chiefs play host to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in their regular-season finale.
The NFL record for receptions by a tight end is now held by the Philadelphia Eagles’ Zach Ertz, who passed Jason Witten in Philly’s victory over the Houston Texans. Ertz has 113 catches; Witten had 110 in 2012. The only other tight ends with 100-yard-reception seasons are Gonzalez and Dallas Clark.
Passing game numbers are spinning for the Chiefs. On Sunday, Mahomes surpassed Trent Green’s club mark of 4,591 yards in a season. Mahomes’ three touchdown passes in the game give him 31 on the road, an NFL record.
Gonzalez, who was traded to the Atlanta Falcons after the 2008 season, ranks second in NFL history with 1,325 career receptions. He’s a a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligiblity, and as an analyst for FOX gets to watch Kelce and the Chiefs on a regular basis.
“He should get the records,” Gonzalez said. “Records are made to be broken. I got to break them; now it’s up to somebody else. With all these great quarterbacks, I think you’re going to see the (big) numbers because that’s the day and age of the NFL.”
Kelce said he’s long been a fan of Gonzalez. They conversed earlier this month when Gonzalez was at Arrowhead Stadium to be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.
“I told him, ‘I’m going out there and playing for you,’” Kelce said. “Tony set the bar. Not only in terms of what he did on the field, but his work ethic.”
Since joining the Chiefs as a third round selection in 2013, Kelce has heard stories about Gonzalez’s influence on the organization.
“Everyone loved playing with the guy,” Kelce said. “I don’t know if I can catch No. 88, but it’s an absolute honor playing in his shadow.”