As if this week couldn’t get any wilder, we now have kicker drama surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs.
After missing an extra point and a 51-yard field goal during Week 15’s 30-24 overtime victory over the Houston Texans, Kansas City placekicker Harrison Butker’s NFL rank in field goal percentage dropped to 30th — and right now, only three kickers have a worse extra-point percentage.
Since missing multiple weeks with an ankle injury sustained in Week 1, Butker has not been his consistent self. Many questions about his health — and even his mental game — continue to be raised.
But according to former Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt, at least some of the fault lies with punter Tommy Townsend, who serves as the holder for field goals and extra points.
He’s an exceptional punter….If you look back at the holds on the extra point, the #laces are facing the sidelines, and on the missed 50+ yarder he pulled the ball to him at the last second and forced the ball to go to the right -he’s been missing the spot all year.— Dustin Colquitt (@dustincolquitt2) December 19, 2022
The team’s special-teams issues have been well-documented this season — but Townsend has performed well. He was named AFC special teams player of the month for September. He ranks second in yards per punt and leads the league in net yards per punt.
But this is not the first time there have been questions about his ability to be Butker’s holder. From 2020 to 2021 Butker’s field goal percentage dropped from 92.6% to 89.3% as Townsend became the holder. In January of 2021, the Chiefs resigned Colquitt to the practice squad with the goal of helping Townsend with holds during the playoff run.
2020 Tommy was holding you…DS….please do some sort of research before commenting— Dustin Colquitt (@dustincolquitt2) December 19, 2022
On Tuesday morning, Colquitt appeared on Kansas City sports radio. He described how crucial the hold is to a successful kick — and confirmed that this had been the reason Kansas City brought him back to the practice squad.
He described Townsend as a “smart aleck,” saying that the advice he had given Townsed fell on deaf ears. Colquitt went on to say that while he thinks Townsend is a great punter — and has a bright future — his holds are costing Butker. Colquitt said that Butker is his children’s godfather — and he is frustrated with him being blamed for missed kicks.
There’s certainly enough smoke around Townsend’s holds to suggest there is a fire. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has mentioned there have been issues — and the team did bring Colquitt back to help.
That said, it’s easy to see that Colquitt could have some hard feelings toward the Chiefs and Townsend. He was Kansas City’s punter for over a decade, staying with the team through some of the organization’s darkest days. There were times he was the best player on the roster — and after finally winning a Super Bowl, he was shown the door so that a rookie could take his place. It also seems clear that Butker and Colquitt are very close personally, which complicates the situation even more.
Toub has stated Butker probably won’t be fully healthy this season. It’s highly likely that the combination of the holds and Butker’s health are the main reasons he is now having his worst season. But if the holding is so poor that it can be noticed on television by a former holder, it may be there is more to the story.
Either way, the Chiefs have a serious problem to manage if their kicking game cannot be relied upon through the rest of the season.