On Labor Day, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have practice — thanks to placekicker Harrison Butker making a 64-yard field goal (just as far as Matt Prater’s NFL record kick in 2013) during one of last week’s practice sessions. But when Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub met with reporters on Thursday, he said that Butker is capable of hitting from 70 yards in favorable conditions.
“In the right conditions? Yeah, he could,” declared Toub. “In the pregame, if there was a strong wind behind us, he could certainly hit a 70-yarder. That kick that he made in practice wasn’t under a hard rush — and we did have a little wind behind us — [but] he probably would have made it from 68 yards if you looked at how far it went. 70 yards is not out of the question for him; in the right conditions, he can do it.”
Just the same, Toub said that there are only certain game situations in which the Chiefs would even consider having Butker even try a field goal in that range.
“We’re not going to throw him back there in a lot of situations like that,” explained Toub, “[because] if you miss a field goal like that, the field position that you’re giving up is so much that you have to really consider that. But at the end of a half — [or with] a couple of seconds left in the game or the half — you might want to try something like that if the situation was right.”
Toub relayed that it has taken Butker some time to fully realize his potential as a long-distance placekicker.
“We knew he had a strong leg,” noted Toub. “We saw that. When we first got him, he was really hitting the ball really high; he had a really high trajectory. We knew if we could lower his trajectory a little bit that his power would be even better — and that’s really what he’s developed over time. He’s definitely got one of the strongest legs in the league, for sure.”
And with Butker now in his second season with holder (and punter) Tommy Townsend and longtime Chiefs long snapper James Winchester, Toub said he is all-in with his team of specialists.
“[I’m] 100% confident, having all those guys together again,” he said. “They talk this stuff all the time; they’re always working. They’ll work an entire practice on the operation and different ins and outs — ‘what we’re going to call this’ and ‘what we’re going to call that.’ Every once in a while, they let me in on what they’re doing — but that’s the way it goes.”
In fact, said Toub, the three specialists largely operate as an independent unit.
“I always say, ’I’m a manager.’” chuckled Toub. “I’m a manager. I’m making sure that they don’t kick too much — making sure Tommy doesn’t punt too much — [and] let them do their thing. They've got their own little world now. I kind of stay back from it. I step in when I need to, but I’m more of a manager of those guys than I am an actual every-down coach — so to speak — or a kicking coach, like a golf swing coach.”
But as long as Butker continues to be one of the NFL’s top field-goal kickers, few would argue against the routine that Toub and his specialists have established.