Chiefs want improvement in kick return game on special teams

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Special teams coordinator Dave Toub stands fairly pleased with Kansas City’s special teams unit fared through the first half of the season, but that doesn’t mean he cannot find room for improvement during the second half of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs kick returner Akeem Hunt races down field on a return against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 5, 2017 at AT&T Stadium. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

“Right now I think we’re doing okay,” Toub said. “There’s always things to improve on. I think our kickoff return I’d like to get that going and better than where we’re at right now.”

The Chiefs average 23.3 yards per kick return on the season, good for eight in the league. But the team has yet to make a game-changing kick return this season that Toub craves. Akeem Hunt leads the team with 26.2 yards per kick return. He also holds the team’s longest return, a 42-yard effort against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3.

Hunt, who spent the training camp and preseason with the Houston Texans, quickly took over the primary return duties from De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas returned eight kicks through the first nine games for a 22.9-yard average.

Toub, however, doesn’t place all the blame on his kick returners.

“We’ve had opportunities but it’s always been like one or two guys that we don’t finish getting them blocked that prevents us from getting a big one,” Toub said. “I think we’re close but we’re just not there yet. We just have to do a better job blocking.”

Toub feels the team’s kicking game, however, is in top form. The Chiefs have missed just one field goal out of 23 tries all season. That miss came on kicker Harrison Butker’s first career attempt. Butker carries a streak of 19-straight successful field goals into Sunday’s game at the New York Giants. The puts him within reach of the franchise record of 22 consecutive field goals shared by Pete Stoyanovich and Ryan Succup.

Toub also praised punter Dustin Colquitt for a strong first half.

“He’s hanging the ball up well for us,” Toub said. “Our gunners are doing a good job, we just have to keep that going in the right direction.”

While the Chiefs rank 22nd in the league in both gross and net punting average, Toub explained he values Colquitt’s ability to kick to his coverage and tailor his kicks to the team’s on-field strategy. The Chiefs rank among the top 10 in the league in punts downed inside the 20-yard line and fewest punt returns allowed.

“He’s very unselfish,” Toub said. “He’s a team player and he’s going to give us what we need. If we ask him to hang it up that week he’ll hang it up. He’s not worried about his numbers, that’s why I like Dustin so much.

“He’s a team guy and that’s really what makes him good for us,” Toub said.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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