Is Jody Fortson Red Zone Target That Chiefs Offense Has Been Missing?

Editor’s Note: jodi fortson The team left Saturday’s practice early due to what was described as a “quad” injury., We will know more about his condition on Monday.


I never expected in a million years to use the old cliché, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” to describe my feelings about Demetrius Harris. But here we are, three years away from Harris going into free agency, still wondering whether or when the Chiefs were brought to the field by him.

Not that Harris was a key cog in the Chiefs’ well-oiled machine. He was a role player—and he was a good one at that.

From 2016-18, Harris caught 47 passes for 410 yards and five touchdowns.

In the three seasons since then, the Chiefs’ backup tight ends have caught 47 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Nearly 50 yards and two of three touchdowns came in Jody Fortson’s six-game sample last season. In other words, Fortson was twice as likely to catch a touchdown pass in his six-game stretch last season, compared to every other Chiefs backup tight end in any game over the past three seasons.

The Chiefs’ “TE2” issues have long been discussed in Kansas City. To be honest, it turned out to be a matter of disappointment for me. A team with Tyrek Hill and Travis Kelce shouldn’t be worried about its lack of production backup tight end,

But the Chiefs no longer have the Hill. For the first time since his rookie year in 2014, Kelce played less than 85 percent of his offensive snaps last season. The chief is going to lash out at his secondary pass-catchers in a way that isn’t necessary since Hill becomes one of the pass-catchers. Most Dangerous Weapons in the NFL in 2017.

There is one area, in particular, that would be particularly interesting to follow. Did you know that Hill was targeted 23 times in the red zone last season, and seven of his nine touchdowns were the result of those red-zone goals? In fact, over the past two seasons, Hill has become one of the best red-zone goalscorers in the NFL. He was hit 42 times within the 20-yard line, and resulted in 15 touchdowns. For context, the remaining majors wide receivers have been targeted in the red zone 47 times over the past two seasons, and have converted those goals into 12 touchdowns.

Hill’s red-zone production will not be replaced by a single person. JuJu Smith-Schuster, for example, has been a productive red-zone threat in his past and may take on some of Hill’s previous roles. But some of those targets are also likely to go toward the tight end of the Division II Valdosta heads of state’s second year.

If you’re not familiar with Fortson’s story, it’s a good story. he was a wide receiver Division II Valdosta signed with the State and Chiefs as an unfinished free agent in 2019. He shone both during training camp and preseason and found himself in the team’s practice squad. That’s when the transition to the tight end began. It had its ups and downs, to say the least, but they put in the work, and last year, it paid off. Not only did they make a 53-man roster; He carved a role for himself as a part of the passing game.

Fortsson was on the field for double-digit snaps in each of the three games before suffering an Achilles injury at the end of his season. The only other Chiefs backup since 2015 with multiple touchdowns in a season was Tight End Harris (2018). Fortson earned a role by earning the trust of the coaching staff.

Oh, and it was hard to deny their drama.

Fortson’s numbers don’t go off the page, but his highlights pop off the screen. A large-bodied red-zone threat is on the lookout for the Chiefs years, He drafted Yehu Chesson in the fourth round. They signed on Calvin Benjamin and Josh Gordon to see if they could produce in the Red Zone. Chesson, Benjamin and Gordon have produced seven receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown in 27 games with the Chiefs. Fortsson essentially matched that production in six games.

When you have Travis Kelsey and Tyrek Hill taking down the vast majority of targets, failing to find a backup tight end or a massive red-zone threat isn’t the end of the world. Changing Hill’s output won’t be easy, and will require contributions from the top and bottom of the roster. It starts with wide receivers like Smith-Schuster, Marx Valdes-Scandling, Mekole Hardman and Skye Moore, but it also extends to a tighter end like Fortson.

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