The majority of Kansas City Chiefs fans this year have been pretty darn complimentary of the special teams units. People point to Dexter McCluster's 96-yard kickoff return to open the season against the San Diego Chargers and then Javier Arenas' high-return average and impressive resume as a returner while at Alabama.
But it's the coverage units that are the most impressive.
Martin Manley of Upon Further Review -- a KC Star blog with a stats-based look at sports -- took a closer look at the Chiefs special teams and came up with something called return yardage margin. Basically, add up the average punt and kick returns of the Chiefs and subtract the opponents punt and kick return totals.
The 14.4 differential is #2 in the NFL. What is most interesting to me is that, although the excitement about KC's return game this year has centered around when KC gets to return the ball, it's actually the coverage that is superior. You probably don't know that KC's 14.7 yards allowed on kickoffs is #1 in the NFL and the 5.4 yards allowed on punt returns is #4.
You know how they always say "It's the little things that matter"? The more stats I look at, and the more I research and watch this team, I realize that they've really taken that to heart. Todd Haley has beaten into them that the little things -- like special teams kick and punt coverage -- do matter.
Or, more likely, Haley has made it clear that the little things -- like special teams kick and punt return coverage -- aren't really so little, and that they're a significant part of how the Chiefs will win games.
Penalties are another part of the "It's the little things that matter" and you can read all about it at Upon Further Review.