Challenging “Stunt Man” & The Living Legend

February 2nd, 2021

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Tyreek Hill is the guy who scares you. Travis Kelce is the guy who beats you.

Buc fans are still haunted by Hill’s monster opening quarter in Week 12, which happens to be the last time Tampa Bay was on the short end of the scoreboard. Hill kept racing past Carlton Davis down the right sideline and Patrick Mahomes kept finding him.

Hill was a one-man wrecking crew that afternoon and Todd Bowles is defiant that won’t happen again. You can bet dinner at Bern’s that Hill will have the full attention of a young secondary in the rematch.

“It’s a full challenge,” says cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross. “If you play defensive back, you’re pretty much playing like a stunt man — one false move out there with him (Hill) and it’s going to cost you. You have to be on point at all times. He’s got a little bit of everything. He can make you miss, his catch-and-run is probably the best in the NFL right now, his deep-ball speed speaks for itself and he’s got really good hands.”

With Kelce, it’s a slower death.

He’s tougher to contain because he works the middle of the field like Bobby Fischer used to work the middle of the chess board.

Six-time Pro Bowl Chiefs TE Travis Kelce

Kelce thrives within the cracks between the linebackers and the safeties. He’s too big and quick to man up on, and no one is better at finding those soft spots in zone coverage.

While Hill was terrorizing the Bucs two months ago, Kelce was quietly gathering in every one of the eight passes Mahomes sent his way.

What the Bucs didn’t realize was that Kelce was in the midst of one of the greatest stretches by a tight end in NFL history. In his past 10 games, Kelce has 86 catches for 1,006 yards and nine TDs, grabbing 75 percent of his targets.

When the season ended, he ranked second to Stefon Diggs in receiving yards — despite sitting out the meaningless Week 17 game against the Chargers. He led led all receivers by generating 79 first downs and tied for first with 23 receptions of at least 20 yards.

“One thing that’s very intriguing about Travis Kelce, and I’ve never really seen this with any other player in the NFL, is that Kelce gets better every single year,” says Rob Gronkowski, who will be fitted for a gold jacket five years after his retirement.

Don’t look now, but Kelce’s on his way to Canton, too.

“What makes Kelce special is he can do everything,” says Nick Rapone, who oversees Tampa Bay safeties. “He can run a deep route, he can run a short route, he can juke you after the catch, he can make the difficult catch. The guy is the best player at his position in the NFL.”

So where does this leave Mr. Bowles?

The Bucs can try to double both Hill and Kelce, but that’s not a scheme these players are used to implementing. They can try to rough up Kelce within the first five yards and throw him off stride, but other teams have tried that tactic without success.

He’s too big for Antoine Winfield and too quick for Lavonte David.

He’s too savvy for Devin White and too good of a route runner for Jordan Whitehead.

If the Bucs are too preoccupied with neutralizing Hill, Kelce will make them pay. Perhaps Tampa Bay can re-apply some of the adjustments made by Bowles in the second half against Mahomes and friends.

“What really happened is we got sucker-punched in that first quarter and we came back off the ropes,” Rapone says. “We just weren’t in man — we were in a couple of zones. The momentum just hit us. In that first quarter, you have to give all the credit in the world to KC. We weren’t in just one coverage … we played three different coverages and they still hit us.

“Hopefully we’ve learned. Hopefully, we’ve gotten better. We’ll find out in six days.”

Bowles faces a heck of a challenge Sunday. The Bills lost to the Chiefs in Week 6, allowing 26 points, 27 first downs and 466 yards at home. When the teams met at Arrowhead in the AFC title game, Kansas City rolled up 38 points, 29 first downs and 439 yards.

Buffalo knew what the Chiefs like to do — and still the Bills couldn’t stop KC. More specifically, they couldn’t stop Kelce, who latched onto 13 of 15 targets for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 87 specializes in killing you softly. Let’s see if the Bucs can change the tune.

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16 Responses to “Challenging “Stunt Man” & The Living Legend”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    We hit PM early and often with the front 4 combined with Whitehead blasting someone will set the tone….

    We just have to execute of offense and play smart aggressive football of defense


  2. Cannon Says:

    Is Kelce really that much faster than Lavonte David?

    Also, aren’t our cornerbacks better suited to man up on Kelce? Our cornerbacks are tall, fast and strong… seems like you could man Kelce with them.

    Cheetah Hill is a different type of animal though… fast and twitchy, which our big cornerbacks can’t handle one on one (so, we will double him)

  3. alton green Says:

    OK this is the perfect time to say what I said I was going to say every day till the SB. Double Hill and put a linebacker on the line and hit Kelce enough to disrupt his timing. I didn’t read the entire post simply because after reading the 2nd paragraph, that said it all. The key word was “KEPT”. Hill KEPT running by Carlton. Now i’m just a Country boy that’s watched the NFL 60 yrs, but it shouldn’t take 2 qtrs for a defensive “guru”to realize that Hill KEPT……….!! When he ran by Carlton, there should have been a safety waiting for him. Hill is going to catch passes as well as Kelce but dear God don’t hand it to them on a silver platter

  4. JJuice32 Says:

    813 ur correct put Pat on his arse. Nobody talks about the fact that in most games if you dominate the trenches you win. You can have all these pretty toys on the outside and it doesn’t mean crap if the QB is face down. Just don’t think KC is as physical as we are . Bucs win this game pretty comfortably.

  5. alton green Says:

    BTW, this is the EXACT recipe that Bilichick used to beat them twice and they had Hill and Kelce then!!

  6. ModHairKen Says:

    If the Bucs can average 3-5 yards per rush, they win. Mahomes will go nuts if the Bucs have a couple of 6 or 8 minute drives.

    No cheap turnovers.

    Contain Mahomes and hit him when legal and make him wait to throw. He will fade.

  7. mg Says:

    Double Hill all game. Double Kelce on third down.

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    The way you “beat” Kelce:

    1) Put Mahomes on the ground, and

    2) Score TDs on every O possession…
    This is a rather unusual SB. Often it’s a Great O vs. a Great D.

    This game is two Great Os, with fair to middlin’ D’s.

    As usual, this game will be decided by trench play for 60 minutes. I like the Buc’s chances in that war.

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    Bucs run game WILL be key. Long drives with smashmouth rushing and surgical play-action will demoralize KC.

  10. mg Says:

    Agree, Cobraboy.

  11. Buc1987 Says:

    I still can’t figure out why I was worried about the Saints and Packers yet I for some reason can see the Bucs beating KC in the SB.

    Go Bucs!!!! LFG!!!

  12. ATLBucsFan Says:

    TB said when talking PM skills is he can backup 20 yard and still hit a receiver downfield. Chasing PM will be a difference maker. Have to stay close to the receivers the entire play! Must keep a close pocket the contains him enough to put him down. A tough task the whole game.

  13. Daniel Coyne Says:

    Tom can set the table, but the defense needs to eat for us to win on Sunday.

    Looking at the tape, the Bucs performed best against Mahomes in week 12 with a 4 man front and cover 2 zone.
    It doesn’t help that both safeties are banged up, and Lavonte (our best coverage linebacker) has been dealing with a hamstring injury.

    They need Vita in the A gap, employ Suh as a stand up joker in the middle over whatever weak link he can find, and have JPP and Shaq daddy set wide to keep Mahomes in the pocket.

    It’s going to be like watching Brooks and Ronde go against Vick.
    Get pressure with your guys up front, gang tackle, and make them go the length of the field and chew up clock!

    To win, we have to keep the Chiefs to 28 points or less …. I think they can do it

  14. Bucamania Says:

    Kelce sure isn’t faster than Devin White

  15. David Says:

    Davis on Hill
    David on Kelce.

    Safeties over the top of both of them. Everyone else can be one on one. With the pass rush pressuring Mahomes and those two mostly removed from the picture, their offense will be dead.
    Those two guys were damn near 60% of the passing game

  16. orlbucfan Says:

    Okay, VV will start in the middle of the defense line. He starts collapsing the pocket against the KC offense line, Mahomes will have some problems. LVD and White will be spies watching Mahomes. So now what happens with Kelce and Hill if Mahomes can”t get the ball to them?