Editor’s note: Judy Fortson He left Saturday’s training early due to what the team described as a “quadruple” injury.. We’ll find out more about his status on Monday.
Never in a million years did I expect to use the old cliché, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” to describe my feelings for Demetrius Harris. But here we are, three years after Harris left in free agency, still wondering if or when the Chiefs were able to replace what he brought to the field.
It wasn’t as if Harris was a prime cog in Chief’s well-oiled machine. He was a player – and he was good at it.
From 2016 to 2018, Harris had 47 passes for 410 yards and five touchdowns.
In the three seasons since then, the Chiefs’ spare narrow ends have had 47 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns. Nearly 50 yards and two three touchdowns came last season in a six-game sampling of Jodi Fortson. In other words, the probability of Fortson receiving a touchdown pass last season from six games was twice as likely than the probability of receiving a touchdown pass from any game during the previous three seasons.
We come back to see some of Jodi Fortson’s highlights. I think it has a chance to be a real weapon for # heads this year. He started showing his presence before he was hurt last season, especially as a target in the red. pic.twitter.com/QKKEbgrtPg
– Brandon Kelly (@BKSportsTalk) 29 July 2022
Leaders’ “TE2” issues have long been discussed in Kansas City. It has become a point of frustration for me, honestly. A team with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce shouldn’t have to worry about a lack of production from a Backup narrow end.
But the chiefs no longer had Hill. Kelce played less than 85 percent of offensive shots last season for the first time since his rookie year in 2014. The Chiefs will rely on their secondary passing tools in a way that hasn’t been necessary since Hill became one of the most fearsome weapons in the NFL in 2017. .
There is one area, in particular, that would be particularly interesting to pursue. Did you know that Hill was targeted 23 times in the red zone last season, and seven out of nine touchdowns were the result of red zone goals? In fact, over the past two seasons, Hill has become one of the best red zone targets in the NFL. It was targeted 42 times inside the 20-yard line, resulting in 15 touchdowns. For context, the rest of the Chiefs’ wide receivers in the red have been targeted 47 times over the past two seasons, and they’ve turned those targets into 12 touchdowns.
The production of the Red Hill region will not be replaced by any individual. JuJu Smith-Schuster, for example, has been a productive red-zone threat in his past and could take on some of Hill’s previous roles. But it’s also possible that some of those goals are headed toward a tight second-year end for the Chiefs outside of Valdosta’s Division II.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Fortson, it’s a good one. It was a wide receiver in Division II Valdosta State signed with the Chiefs as a non-drafted free agent in 2019. He showed flashes both in training camp and during pre-season and found himself on the team’s coaching staff. That’s when the transition to the narrow end began. It had its ups and downs, to say the least, but it got its start, and last year, it paid off. Not only did he make a list of 53 men; He carved out a role for himself as part of a scrolling game.
Fortson was on the field making double-digit shots in each of his three games before injuring his Achilles tendon at the end of the season. Harris (2018) has been the only other side to hold a tight end of reserve chiefs since 2015 with multiple touchdowns in a season. Fortson secured a role by earning the trust of the coaching staff.
Oh, and his play was hard to deny.
The # heads It has brought in quite a number of large-bodied receivers in recent years, but none have actually been discovered. Jodi Fortson showed some serious flashes in his small sample size on the field last season. pic.twitter.com/CypnmMDU1v
– Brandon Kelly (@BKSportsTalk) 29 July 2022
Fortson’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but his highlights do jump off the screen. The chiefs were looking for a big threat to the red zone Years. They drafted Jihu Chisun in the fourth round. They signed up to Kelvin Benjamin and Josh Gordon to see if they could produce in the red. Chesson, Benjamin and Gordon combined to produce seven receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown in 27 games with the Chiefs. Fortson has essentially matched this production in six matches.
Failing to find a spare tight end or a major threat to the red zone isn’t the end of the world when Travis Kelsey and Terrick Hill are commanding the vast majority of goals. Replacing Hill’s production will not be easy, and will require contributions from both the top and bottom of the list. This starts with wide receivers like Smith-Schuster, Marques Valdes-Scandling, Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore, but also extends to a narrow end like the Fortson.