Chiefs offense: Three-tight end sets key to success

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It’s 2nd down and 5 at then Houston Texans 35-yard line. After a quick run to the left by Jamaal Charles the Kansas City Chiefs are faced with a very manageable second down.

Head coach Andy Reid sends in two additional tight ends and off come Anthony Sherman and a wide receiver. As the defensive coordinator how do you defend this package? Do you put an extra safety on the field? Do you line up linebackers across the line of scrimmage from the tight ends? Do you chance letting them go up against a corner?

The Chiefs have shown the ability in 2014 to run or pass out of the formation and even ran a trips left package with all three tight ends split to the left against the Tennessee Titans in the preseason. This is one way that Reid will use his weapons on offense this season that he couldn’t do all season last year.

Throughout the 2014 season, Reid had to improvise to allow the Chiefs offense to be productive. Most players couldn’t win their single matchups on a consistent basis so Reid got creative. With Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce the Chiefs had two tight ends that could cause trouble for defenses. Fasano doesn’t have Kelce’s talent but was good enough running routes and run blocking that he had to be accounted for by the defense.

Reid took the two-tight end offense that the New England Patriots had started to run over the past couple of seasons and added a new element, a third tight end. Teams have played with three-tight end sets occasionally but mostly to use as a more jumbo package for short-yardage plays. Kansas City’s version of the three-tight end set started off looking like a jumbo running package but morphed into a set where the defense didn’t know what was coming at them.

Headed into the 2015 season, the Chiefs still have Kelce and Demetrius Harris but have added James O’Shaughnessy to the mix was well via the draft and Brian Parker as a waiver wire pick up. The Chiefs do not have the blocking tight end that they had in Fasano, but with Kelce, Harris and O’Shaughnessy they should still be able to create trouble for opposing defenses.

One of my favorite plays from the Titans game was watching Reid dial-up three tight ends split to the left, Maclin split to the right and Charles in the backfield. This particular play ended up going to the right on a throw to Charles in the flats; while not a huge gain the formation and variations from this set are endless.

Next: Chiefs Starting TE - Travis Kelce