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Former Eagles scout says Travis Kelce looks old and slow: Is it Taylor Swift's fault?

Travis Kelce has made headlines this season for mostly off the field stuff. His relationship with Taylor Swift has placed the national spotlight directly on him, and he has certainly welcomed it.

On the field, Kelce has seemingly been his usual, efficient, All-Pro self. He's already caught 70 balls, surpassed 700 yards and scored five touchdowns while helping the Kansas City Chiefs get to 8-3. But according to one former NFL scout, John Middlekauff, Kelce hasn't been the same this year.

John Middlekauff says Travis Kelce looks old

Middlekauff made his usual appearance on Colin Cowherd's "The Herd" podcast this week and had this to say about Kelce's 2023 season.

He's kind of looked old this year. And part of it, he had a knee injury right before the season started, he's had ankle injuries... He's a 34 year old guy with a lot miles on his body who's starting to get banged up. His game is very predicated on athleticism, movement, speed, explosiveness. And he just feels like a step slow this year.

Middlekauff made sure to note that Kelce "flying to Taylor (Swift) and being in love" has nothing to do with the drop-off in his game, so Swifties can back off for the time being.

With the Swift angle discarded, does Middelkauff have a point with what he's saying from a pure football perspective?

If Taylor Swift isn't the problem for Kelce, then what is?

There are only a couple of underlying numbers that could point to a decline in athleticism and explosiveness. Kelce's yards per reception this year is currently at 10.5, which would be 1.7 lower than his previous career low in a season. He's only broken two tackles this season and is breaking one every 35 receptions. His lowest broken tackle per reception number (which started tracking in 2018) was 16.2 in 2019.

Jason Kelce reveals Taylor Swift's secret display of support for Travis during podcastNew Heights podcast

Despite that, the dip in numbers can be explained in a few ways. Kelce's average depth of target is currently at 6.9, his lowest in the last five years. He's being used closer to the line of scrimmage, mainly because he's seeing increased attention from defenders down the field. The biggest reason for that is the lack of alternatives at pass-catcher for the Chiefs; quite simply, their wide receivers have been awful.

So while Kelce may be getting slightly slower as he grows into his mid-30s, it's a bit of a stretch to say he's looked "old" in a season where he's on pace to eclipse the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the eighth year in a row.

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