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Arrowhead Pride Midseason Awards: special teams MVP, most improved and best assistant coach

At the season’s halfway point, we award the Chiefs’ special teams MVP, the most improved player and top assistant.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There are nine games in the books — and seven more to go.

While we may not be right at the halfway mark of the 2020 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs are taking their bye week in Week 10 — it’s a good time to dish out some midseason awards.

The Arrowhead Pride writing staff members each had one vote for our eight awards. There are eight writers, so there will be eight votes tallied for each award. In this post, I’ll reveal the winners of the special teams MVP award, the most improved Chief award and the most valuable assistant coach award for the first nine games of the season.

Check back Thursday for our top rookies and Friday for our MVP, offensive player of the first half and defensive player of the first half.

Here are our initial winners:

Special Teams Co-MVPs

Kick returner/gunner Byron Pringle and punter Tommy Townsend

With four votes apiece, Byron Pringle and Tommy Townsend split the special teams MVP award.

Pringle is a staple on each of the kickoff, kick-return, punt and punt-return units. Overall, he has the sixth-most special teams snaps on the team, and he’s made a few of the unit’s biggest plays this season. He scored on a 103-yard kick return in Week 7 against the Denver Broncos, and he has downed multiple punts inside the 20-yard line this year as a gunner.

Townsend is an underappreciated offseason addition, replacing one of the league’s all-time punters in Dustin Colquitt. The undrafted rookie has been effective in the field-position game this year; 10 of his 27 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line — including two downed inside the 10-yard line in the past three games. He also executed a fake punt against the Jets that set up a key offensive touchdown.

Most Improved Chiefs

Left guard Nick Allegretti and linebacker Anthony Hitchens

Others receiving votes: Cornerback Rashad Fenton, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver/kick returner Byron Pringle

Nick Allegretti and Anthony Hitchens tied for this award by each receiving two votes.

Allegretti makes a lot of sense for this title. After playing in a handful of snaps in his rookie season, the second-year, seventh-round selection was forced to step into the lineup in Week 6 due to injury. He hasn’t been out of the starting five since, and he has played noticeably well. His road-grading style is the closest any Chiefs lineman plays to injured left guard Kelechi Osemele, and he has been significant to the offense.

Hitchens is also a very worthy award-winner. He’s taken a lot of heat from followers of the Chiefs for not producing up to the standard set by his contract — but in his second year with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, he looks more comfortable. He looks quicker to his assignments and puts himself in a better position to make a strong tackle than he has at times before. He’s always been the brain of the defense, but his improvements in reaction time and fundamentals have made him an even more invaluable part of the unit.

Most Valuable Assistant Coach

Defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Sam Madison

Others receiving votes: Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, defensive line coach Brendan Daly, offensive line coach Andy Heck and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

Among an incredibly talented and respected coaching staff, Sam Madison was voted the most valuable with four votes. No other coach received more than one.

It’s obvious why Madison is getting some love. He’s developed a young defensive secondary to produce as one of the league’s best units — all this while juggling suspensions and injuries to key players.

Rookie fourth-round cornerback L’Jarius Sneed led the NFL in interceptions when he suffered the broken collarbone, second-year cornerback Rashad Fenton has really impressed at times when he’s been asked to, and veteran cornerback Bashaud Breeland picked up where he left off from last year after serving his four-game suspension.

Cornerback Charvarius Ward has had his ups and downs, but it sure seems like Madison is getting the most out of him and the rest of the group. It’s also important to note how big an impact the safety position has made on the defense since his arrival with Spagnuolo.