The Kansas City Chiefs have not had a reliable return man since Dante Hall was trade and hope rookie Quinten Lawrence can help fill the void, but the team knows it has to improve special teams as a whole.
The Chiefs have a lot to fix in the kicking game. Their coverage teams have been nothing special. Opponents had the best average starting field position after a kickoff last year (31.9-yard line) than against any other NFL team.
The return game is where the Chiefs have truly been futile. Only five teams had a worse average than the Chiefs (21.5 yards) returning kickoffs. Just three were worse returning punts (6.5 yards). In the past two years, the Chiefs tried various return candidates, including Eddie Drummond, B.J. Sams, Dantrelle Savage and Kevin Robinson, but none came close to giving the Chiefs what Hall once did.
Lawrence wasn’t known as a returner coming out of McNeese State, but that when he did return kicks he was successful including a 70 yarder for a touchdown the only time he touched a punt last season. The more important thing for me is the focus on the rest of special teams. Guys like Monty Beisel, Jon McGraw and the influx of athletic UDFAs should at the very least move the Chiefs from the bottom of the league to middle of the pack. And the wild card is Ryan Succop. He wasn’t accurate during his senior season at South Carolina, but that can be attributed to an injury that Succop was playing through. Last weekend he talked about pulling his range out to 68 yards in practice, a crazy distance for almost all kickers.
The Chiefs defense ranked 31st last season and Scott Pioli looked to fix that by drafting two defensive lineman with their top two picks. Unfortunately for Kansas City, defensive linemen are notoriously slow starters in the NFL.
Rookie pass rushers usually lack the repertoire of moves they’ll eventually need to thrive in the NFL. Offensive coaches and players are adept at studying a rookie defensive lineman’s strengths and then devising schemes to neutralize them.
All of this promises a steep learning curve for the Chiefs’ top pick, defensive tackle Tyson Jackson though he appeared levelheaded about what to expect at this level.
“Once you get in the NFL, you can tell everything is faster. Guys are bigger and stronger, and they know technique. They’re able to get an advantage by (holding) some time. At the same time, you’re a professional now. You have to get adjusted quick. I have to step up my game a whole lot more. I can’t continue playing the college game.”
The defense certainly can’t be any worse than it was last year, but at the same time I hope fans are more patient with Jackson than they were with Glenn Dorsey. It’s rare, no matter where the player is drafted, to see a defensive lineman make an immediate impact and it would be unfair to expect a ton from Jackson as he comes into a bad defense transitioning to a new scheme. Dorsey needs to show vast improvement this season even as he adjusts to a new position because the speed of the game won’t be a shock to his system the way it was last year.
Former Chiefs LB/FB Boomer Grigsby returned to the NFL yesterday after signing a contract with the Houston Texans.
Grigsby will be playing for his third team after being originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round in the 2005 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons with the Chiefs and ranked third on the team in special teams tackles each season. In 2008, Grigsby signed with the Miami Dolphins and won the starting job at fullback during the preseason, but was released after the first regular-season game.
The Texans will look to add Grigsby to a special teams unit that allowed 22.3 yards per return on kickoffs, which ranked 11th in the league. Houston special teams coordinator Joe Marciano is happy to have Grigsby’s toughness on his squad.
“He’s a veteran special team guy, he’s had his bell rung a few times and he knows how to hit a guy. I’m excited about working with him and getting him into our system.”
It’s great to see Boomer back in the league. I know he was nothing more than a special teams guy during his tenure here, but he was still one of my favorite guys on the team. Oddly enough, he’s the type of player that would fit in perfectly with the improvements Todd Haley wants to bring to special teams. Good luck, Boomer!