The reasons I love covering an NFL team because you learn something new every year. In the Scott Pioli and Todd Haley era, I read up on Bill Parcells and his influences in the game. When Romeo Crennel came on board I read and read about his defenses in New England and his other stops about his bend-but-don't-break defenses. And now with a new coaching staff under Andy Reid comes more football things to learn.
Among them is special teams. Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub is not only a very good coach, but he's also a good communicator. He can tell the media what is going on with his unit, which I really enjoy. He's very honest. Examples of his honesty include saying Thomas Gafford is clearly ahead of Brad Madison at long snapper (Madison was just cut yesterday, by the way) and that Knile Davis is not close to being ready to handle kickoff returns. Those aren't any state secrets but they give Chiefs fans an idea of what's going on wit the team.
He must also be very good at communicating to his players because the Chiefs special teams has "blowed up" since he came on board. I have watched special teams before but watching Dave Toub's unit -- especially on the big returns -- it's easy to see how these returns are supposed to work. It looks easy.
Take last week's 104-yard return by Quintin Demps. At the 11-second mark of this video: you can see the lane being created:
Trent Green highlighted this play on the broadcast and you can tell how easy it looks.
Of course, it's not easy. The Chiefs are just good at it, Dave Toub is just good at communicating it. They make it look easy but history has shown that it is not easy.
You see how clear that lane is. I wish I had more knowledge of special teams so I knew exactly what everyone's responsibility is. Any special teams experts out there?
Knile Davis, Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie -- all of whom had 50+ yard kick or punt returns -- were all asked to beat at least one man in the open field. Demps doesn't even have to do that. He just has to know where the lane is being created.
Boom. By the time he hits this point, it's a race. Are you faster than Quintin Demps? That's all that really matters at that point.
It's been since the days of Dante Hall that I've seen a Chiefs return unit that makes it look so easy. Dante's strength was that he could make you miss. The strength of these Chiefs is that all 11 players on the field are working in concert with each other. They're on the same page and that's evidenced by the fact that there have been two kick returns over 79 yards and two punt returns over 50 yards in two games. It's clearly working.
How long will it work? The regular season games are the only ones that count but early evidence suggests the Chiefs return unit is often going to be a factor.