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Lzen
06-15-2005, 09:56 AM
GRETZ: Staying Patient on Special Teams
Jun 15, 2005, 6:15:21 AM by Bob Gretz


(This is the first of two columns this week on the kicking game.)

GRETZ: Staying Patient on Special Teams This is a strange time of the football year for Chiefs special teams coach Frank Gansz.

Frustrating isn’t the right word to describe his daily jaunts to OTA workouts. It’s more, more … well, it’s hard to come up with the right word.

“I just have to be patient,” Gansz said. “We’ve got a lot of things to go through before we play the Jets (in the Chiefs season opener.) There’s a lot that has to be revealed. From point A to point B is a long journey.”

These OTA sessions have been going on for weeks now. Offensive coordinator Al Saunders works his guys through 25 to 30 plays from his playbook during each practice. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham has the same amount of time to implement his scheme.

Not so for Gansz. He works in pre-practice with his kickers, but during the main-part of the sessions, he watches the players go through the workout. He analyzes physical movement among some of the younger players. He evaluates the new faces for what they might contribute in the kicking game.

On Tuesday, for the first time in the off-season sessions, the Chiefs spent a few moments working on special teams, as the punt team went through several kicks from Dustin Colquitt and Nick Murphy. The coverage guys worked on a few fundamentals before they were back to offense and defense drills.

That’s how it goes for the special teams at this time of the year. Gansz has to wait for Saunders and Cunningham to slice their way through the 90 or so players on the roster before he gets a chance to start plugging bodies into the individual special teams units.

There are some good signs. Gansz sees a more athletic team on the field for these workouts and that should translate into help in the kicking game. Improvement is needed on the coverage teams, as last year the Chiefs finished 31st in punt coverage and 21st in kickoff coverage.

“We’ll get better coverage with better performances from our kickers,” Gansz said. “We need to kickoff better and we need to punt better.”

The Chiefs bit the bullet last year with Lawrence Tynes, going through a season with an inexperienced kicker and the problems that usually entail: two missed PAT kicks and inconsistency on his kickoffs. He has returned stronger and better prepared for his second season. Right now, he has no competition on the roster.

Colquitt, the Chiefs third-round choice, is doing “OK” according to Gansz. “He’s got a lot to work on.” Veteran Nick Murphy, signed at the end of last season, is providing competition. Last year, the Chiefs were 29th in gross punting and 32nd or last in the league in net punting. “There’s no question we have to get better there,” said Gansz.

The most solid parts of the kicking game are also back: Kendall Gammon to handle the snapping and Dante Hall to handle the returns.

But there were off-season losses that impacted the kicking game: RB Derrick Blaylock and LB Monte Beisel left in free agency. “Losing those guys hurts,” said Gansz. “Derrick Blaylock was one of our core players on the teams. You can replace him in the offense, but there’s no one obvious to replace him in the kicking game.”

But there’s one big name returning, that’s WR Marc Boerigter. Injured during the pre-season last year, Boerigter has yet to practice, but is on pace to be ready to go for training camp. “People forget about how much Bo contributed in the kicking game,” said Gansz. “The offense was able to replace him, but I’m not sure we were able to do that (in the kicking game.)”

There are new athletic faces among the rookies, guys like linebackers Derrick Johnson and Boomer Grigsby who would seem to be perfect for covering kicks.

“Those guys have some athletic ability, but they are rookies,” said Gansz. “There’s so much for them to go through yet, and there’s one thing we can’t coach, and that’s experience. No matter what they can do, they’ve never gone through anything like a real NFL game before and we are still many weeks away from being able to do that.”

Among the top 15 tackles on special teams last year, four are already gone: Beisel, Blaylock, LB Fred Jones and FB Omar Easy. The remaining 11 are all in deep fights for roster spots at linebacker, secondary and wide receiver. Some of those battles will go down to the final cutdown in early September.

Until then, all Frank Gansz can do is prepare for all possibilities, and wait.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Link (http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2005/06/15/gretz_staying_patient_on_special_teams/)

jspchief
06-15-2005, 10:18 AM
Wow. Gretz is capable of writing an article that is less than horrible when he isn't whining about the local media.

So Colquitt and Murphy are both working on punting. What happens if Murphy were to actually beat Colquitt out for the job? It's not like we'll carry two punters on the roster, but would we be willing to expose our third round pick by putting him on the practice squad?

Normally, I'm all for competition, but I'd say this is one case where we need to just settle on Colquitt. Although, I guess it doesn't hurt to keep a back-up until the roster cuts are actually mandatory.

BigChiefFan
06-15-2005, 10:19 AM
Cry me a river, Gansz. If it weren't for Dante Hall you might be looking for work.

mikey23545
06-15-2005, 12:56 PM
Cry me a river, Gansz. If it weren't for Dante Hall you might be looking for work.

I'm not sure what I think of the kid, but his old man may have been the greatest ST coach ever....

HemiEd
06-15-2005, 12:57 PM
This is the area of my deepest concern. I hope it works out, but losing Beisel and Blaylock really hurt.

kc rush
06-15-2005, 01:08 PM
DJ playing special teams? Probably not.

milkman
06-15-2005, 01:13 PM
I'm not sure what I think of the kid, but his old man may have been the greatest ST coach ever....

It helped that he had a number of starters, especially Albert Lewis, play on STs.

HemiEd
06-15-2005, 01:16 PM
It helped that he had a number of starters, especially Albert Lewis, play on STs.

Good Point, that is what got him promoted to a position he could not handle, head coach. Albert Lewis had an incredible year blocking punts IIRC.

TRR
06-15-2005, 02:40 PM
We were horrible in kick and punt coverage. I'm not sure how good Beisel or Blaylock were on Special Teams considering how bad the unit was.

Same can be said for our defense.

Lzen
06-15-2005, 02:48 PM
We were horrible in kick and punt coverage. I'm not sure how good Beisel or Blaylock were on Special Teams considering how bad the unit was.

Same can be said for our defense.

I would cut the coverage teams some slack considering the hang time was not good last year on punts and some on kickoffs, too.

Bob Dole
06-15-2005, 02:53 PM
“Derrick Blaylock was one of our core players on the teams. You can replace him in the offense, but there’s no one obvious to replace him in the kicking game.”

Didn't someone type that same thing on here about 30 times yesterday?

Mr. Laz
06-15-2005, 03:00 PM
i worry about our coverage units

seems like for the pass 4/5 years we've been blaming the punters/kickers instead of the coverage unit.

doesn't seem to matter where the kicks land on kickoffs we don't get close to them until the 30 yard line.

same with punts ... imo getting a punter that only kicks it 35 yards is not the proper answer to protect coverage guys who can only run 35 yards.