View Full Version : GRETZ: Special Teams In Flux

06-18-2007, 06:20 AM
There are changes everywhere at Arrowhead Stadium.

But no part of the Chiefs has been altered for the coming season like the kicking game.

Turnover? How about new faces at four of the five major positions on the special teams:
Long snapper Jean-Philippe Darche was signed as an unrestricted free agent, replacing veteran snapper Kendall Gammon. Darche is an eight-year veteran who previously played in Seattle. Kicker Justin Medlock was taken in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft and was handed the job after the team traded away Lawrence Tynes to the New York Giants in late May. Also in an off-season trade, returner Dante Hall was sent to the St. Louis Rams. Replacing him on punt and kickoff returns is … well, that remains to be seen. Everybody from veterans like Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker and Benny Sapp are candidates, along with young guys like Jeff Webb and Chris Hannon, and rookies and first-year guys like Ian Randolph and Justin Phinisee. The team’s top two tacklers in the kicking game last season are both gone. Linebacker Kris Griffin was released in May, while running back Dee Brown was not re-signed when he became an unrestricted free agent.“Coach Edwards is molding a team that will fit what he wants to see on offense, defense and in the kicking game,” said special teams coach Mike Priefer. “It’s the same formula on special teams as it is on offense and defense.

“The type of players that we are looking for are guys that are going to come in here, they are going to run fast, they are going to play hard, they are going to be tough guys and they are going to give maximum effort. They are young and hungry and eager.

“I don’t think we had a roster full of those guys last year. There were three or four guys that were good athletes and there were reasons they were on the football team, but they didn’t have that want too. It’s that mental aspect that tells you maybe there are a couple screws loose up there that are going to help you run down on kickoff coverage and drill somebody.

“That’s hard to do; human nature tells you not to do it. To be a good football player, to be a good special teams contributor, you need young, fast tough guys that are going to play hard all the time, not just one or two games a year.”

In what was an ordinary season for the kicking game, there were two special teams stars last year: punter Dustin Colquitt and cover man Bernard Pollard.

Colquitt ended up leading the league in net punting and improved his gross punting average five yards from his rookie season. Colquitt showed he could affect the game with the strength of his leg in both distance and hang time.

He says credit for his improvement must go to Priefer, who came in last season with Edwards and allowed the young punter to do what he does best.

“Mike said, go back to what you did in college, what your strengths are, really work on those, use those and then we’ll keep polishing up on your weaknesses,” Colquitt said. “It really worked for me.”
Said Priefer: “I think with a young player who is so talented, you can’t try to over coach him. It’s one thing that our head coach preaches: keep it simple for our playmakers. I thought we did a pretty good job in that respect.

“On the plus-50 kicks, he did a good job of downing the ball inside the 10 yard line and getting the balls out of bounds when they needed to go out of bounds. In open field punts, I would let him decide the direction of the punt. I learned that from Jeff Feagles (veteran punter with the New York Giants.) It’s very difficult to tell a punter the wind is blowing this way, kick it against the wind. I would never do that. We try to use the wind.

“Dustin felt confident that when he went on the field, he had his best opportunity to succeed. When you give a player who is that talented enough confidence in his abilities and do a good job of protecting and covering around him, you get the best of both worlds.”

By the end of the ‘06 season, Pollard’s participation in the kicking game as a blocker and coverage man was at a Pro Bowl level. He finished the season with 15 tackles, two blocked punts, plus another punt that he deflected.

“About midway through the year he would show up for our meetings a little more focused than earlier in the year,” said Priefer. “He would come to practice with almost a chip on his shoulder like ‘Hey I’m a pretty darn good special teams player and I’m going to go out and prove that this week.’

“The maturing process was going on with him. He was a young player last year, just 21 years old. I was real proud with the way he responded to the adversity of not playing on defense, because he wasn’t used to being on the sidelines.”

Priefer and the Chiefs need more performances this year like those turned in by Colquitt and Pollard.

“I thought overall we played solid last year,” said Priefer. “Is there room for improvement? Yes, a ton of improvement. Do we need to come out and play better week in and week out? Of course we do.”

Coming up on Wednesday: the Chiefs make a change at kicker. Tynes is out, Medlock is in. Here’s why.

13 ratings

.js-rating-labelText { padding-top: 2px; font-size: 11px; text-align: center; cursor: default }.js-rating-splitObjectRating { margin-right: 10px; }.js-rating-afterRating { background-color: #eee; margin-left: 10px; float: left; width: 100px; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; border: 1px solid #aaa; padding: 2px 0;}The opinions offered in this column completely reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs as Bob Gretz is a mouth piece for king carl.

06-18-2007, 07:03 AM
Oh shit! We lost Dee Brown. Damn.

06-18-2007, 07:32 AM
Oh shit! We lost Dee Brown. Damn.

Better cancel the SB tickets!

Hammock Parties
06-18-2007, 07:33 AM
I'm very interested to see what he has to say about Tynes/Medlock.

06-18-2007, 07:44 AM
Better cancel the SB tickets!


06-18-2007, 07:55 AM
I'm very interested to see what he has to say about Tynes/Medlock.

I hope to GOD Medlock turns out since we traded Tynes away.

We may be in for a long season if this guy lays an NFL EGG.

06-18-2007, 09:00 AM
I think Medlock can do what Tynes did, miss 26 yard fg attempts and random xp's in the very least.