[From the FanPosts. Bumped up the time. -- Joel]
When an NFL team has better than average starting field position on offense, it wins 67.2% of the time. Those are the stats from all games 2004-2008. What things affect field position? The kicking game plays a huge role, along with turnovers, as well as the success of the offense and defense, of course. The average starting position is approximately the 31 yard line. That's for all possessions - not just after kickoffs. How will the Chiefs do with field position this year, and specifically next Monday night? Will Javier heat up under the lights?
While McCluster or even Charles could return some kicks, Arenas figures to be the man. During his college days at Alabama, his eight total return TDs (seven punts, one interception) were only one shy of the NCAA record. During his career at Alabama, Arenas returned 125 punt returns for 1,752 yards, ranking second in NCAA annals. He's no stranger to fielding a punt.
As a team, how did the Chiefs do returning the ball during the 2010 preseason vs. the 2009 regular season?
* Average punt return, 2009: 6.5 yds (27th)
* Average punt return, 2010: 10.3 yards (tied for 11th with the Chargers)
* Average kick return, 2009 21.6 (25th)
* Average kick return, 2010: 26.1 yds (11th. Teams ranged from 16.8 to 33.8)
The return game has definitely shown improvement this preseason. We've moved from the lowest fourth of the league to 11th. Granted, these are preseason numbers. But it's our only indicator right now.
As far as kicking the ball to the other team, Succop and Colquitt are a pretty good duo for getting some distance. Colquitt had the fourth best net average last year at 40.8 yards, and was second in the league with 41 punts inside the 20. (Of course, it wouldn't kill me to see that rank for "inside the 20" drop if it meant we punted less this year.)
Special Teams Coverage Units Under Steve Hoffman
Do you believe people on this year's roster for special teams will cover kicks as well or better than last year? I do. We still have McGraw. Copper, Horne (assuming he's active Monday), Greenwood and other linebackers seem to be getting after the special teams play this year. And Hoffman appears to be a good coach.
Steve Hoffman enters his second season as Kansas City’s special teams coach in 2010. ...his 21st season as an NFL coach. Kansas City’s special teams unit showed dramatic improvement under Hoffman’s guidance last season. The Chiefs improved to 12th in 2009 from 29th in 2008 in the comprehensive NFL special teams rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Turnovers Also Contribute to Field Position
The final point I'll make related to field position is the area of turnovers. Last year's 14-43 debacle in San Diego included 5 give-aways: 4 fumbles and an interception. Charles had the ball ripped from his grasp at the end of a run; Niswanger hiked a ball over Cassel's head; and Cassel fumbled twice - once when the ball simply slipped out of his hand as he pulled it back to pass. One would think most of those turnovers will go away with a team that's better prepared and playing at home. We are young, however, and there may be a few first-game jitters.
Field position is an important indicator when it comes to winning games. I'm optimistic that we will be better than average this Monday night. How about you?