It’s not like we weren’t warned.
Throughout the run-up to the season, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub had been saying that his kicker Harrison Butker had put in a terrific amount of work in the offseason — work that would extend his useful field-goal range at least five yards.
And then in Sunday’s overtime victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Butker hit four field goals of 50 yards or more in game conditions — three of them consecutively, with the outcome of an overtime game on the line. Only two of them actually counted — they were wiped off the board by penalties and timeouts — but it proved that Toub knew what he was talking about.
Every one of them (three of them from 58 yards, a Chiefs franchise record) would have been good from even farther away. And on Friday, Toub said he’d have been happy to have Butker take another swing — even if it had come from a longer distance.
“I would’ve been comfortable kicking another one because he was so on point that day,” said the special-teams guru. “He was hitting the ball so well in pregame — and then at halftime, he hit another one. We just really felt comfortable with him the way he was hitting the ball; it’s kind of like when you’re playing golf and you’re hitting a driver well, you hit the driver well all day. He was like that. He was in that mode. Even if there was another penalty, we would’ve had a discussion, I’m sure — and I would’ve been all for it, for sure.”
Obviously, Butker came to placekicking with some athletic talent — but according to Toub, the rest of it has been nothing but dedication and hard work.
“I can’t explain how hard this guy works,” he told reporters. “He is such a dedicated guy. He comes in here and after our meetings in the mornings, he’ll spend two or three hours in here just watching tape. He watches every other kicker that kicked, every kick that happened that week, he studies the field we’re going to be kicking on. He knows the science of the game. He studies it so well and then he works so hard on the field.”
Toub said that he’s put in the work to make his leg stronger, too.
“His offseason this year, he worked so hard and got so much stronger; it was noticeable right away. As soon as he started kicking, you could see the ball exploding off his leg. He’s kicking so pure this year — and we just hope it keeps on going like that.”
Monday’s night’s game between the Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens is widely expected to be a close game that could easily be decided by a late (or even overtime) field goal. And two of the league’s best — Butker and Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker — will be waiting for their opportunity to make them.
“They both admire each other’s games; I know that,” said Toub. “I know Butker watches Tucker a lot. He studies him and wants to be like him; I know that.
“This game is going to be a lot of fun. I told Butker, ‘I don’t want to see you in some kind of competition in pregame to see who’s going to bang it the farthest.’ I just want him to go out there and stick to his routine. They’re both competitive guys — and this game brings out the best in both of them.”