Special Rankings … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

Offensively in the 2009 NFL season, the Chiefs finished 25th among the league’s 32 teams in offensive yardage. Defensively, they were 30th. All are numbers associated with a football team that finished the season with a 4-12 record.

However, the numbers were not so bad in the kicking game. As any Chiefs fan who watched all 16 editions of the ‘09 season knows, it was the special teams that were the most consistent part of the team’s play last year.

Led by the kicking duo of Dustin Colquitt (right) and Ryan Succop, the Chiefs finished 12th in the league when it came to the kicking game according to the rankings of Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin. Our man Goose and his rankings based on 22 kicking-game categories have become the gold standard around the NFL for evaluating each team’s units. This isn’t generated by the media, as much as it generated by the special teams coaches themselves, who long sought a way to publicize their players and groups which are frequently forgotten in the discussion of offense and defense.

The Chiefs had 341 points, which was 125.5 points behind the unit ranked as the league’s best, the Cleveland Browns at 215.5 points. That placed them in the top half of the league, something they couldn’t do on offense or defense.

More on the rankings: Goose takes 22 statistical categories and ranks teams one through 32. So if a team should finish first in all 22 areas, they would total 22 points. If a team finished last in all 22 areas they would finish with 704 points. So that’s the potential top and bottom of the rankings; obviously the fewer points, the better the kicking game performance.

Here are the 22 areas that make up Goose’s rankings: kickoff returns, punt returns, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, starting point after receiving a kickoff, opponent starting point after receiving a kickoff, punting, net punting, punts inside the 20, opponents punting, opponents net punting, made field goals, field goal percentage, opponents field goal percentage, extra point percentage, points scored in kicking game, points allowed in kicking game, blocked kicks for, blocked kicks against, takeaways, giveaways and penalties.

The No. 1 special teams unit during the ‘09 season belonged to the Browns. Despite the fact they were 5-11 on the season, the Browns performed well in the kicking game largely due to having returner Joshua Cribbs. His biggest game came against the Chiefs, with two kickoff return touchdowns. Their total of 215.5 points was one of the top kicking game performances of the decade.

Cleveland finished well ahead of the second-place team Tampa Bay, with 256.5 points. Buffalo, Dallas and the New York Jets rounded out the top five.

While five of the top nine teams in the rankings made the playoffs, only six of 16 or the top half of the league were in the post-season. Super Bowl teams Indianapolis and New Orleans ranked 28th and 29th. Ironic given that special teams were huge in the Saints victory with the onside kick to start the second half and the three-for-three FG performance from kicker Garrett Hartley.

But that’s been the recent trend with championship teams – they had one major blemish to their game. In ‘05, Pittsburgh won with the lowest ranked passing offense for any Super Bowl champion. The next year Indianapolis won with the league’s worst run defense. Arizona in ‘08 and Indianapolis in ‘09 made the title game with the worst rushing offenses in the league.

The Saints ranking of No. 29 on special teams was the worst for any Super Bowl winner since Goose began creating the rankings back in the 1990s. From 1996-2003, the Super Bowl champion ranked in the top 10 in seven of the eight seasons; there hasn’t been a top 10 Super Bowl winner since that ‘03 season.

Even with Colquitt and Succop, it’s hard to believe the Chiefs ranked so high given the fact they had only one return of note: Jamaal Charles’ 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Pittsburgh. Otherwise, the Chiefs struggled in kick and especially punt returns.

But Colquitt had a 45.4-yard average on his punts, with a net average of 40.8 and 41 punts inside the 20-yard line. Succop had one of the best rookie seasons among kickers over the last 30 years, hitting 25 of his 29 FG attempts.

It was significant improvement from the team’s finish at No. 29 in the’08 season. The best kicking game performance of the decade for the Chiefs was in 2001, when they finished eighth. On average for the decade, the Chiefs special teams ranked 19th in the league.

Here’s how the Chiefs scored in the 22 categories during the ‘09 season, along with the league leader in each area:



NFL Rank

NFL Leader


Kickoff returns

21.6 yards



26.2 yards

Punt returns

6.5 yards



13.5 yards

Kickoff coverage

24.1 yards



18.9 yards

Punt coverage

7.1 yards



4.2 yards


45.4 yards



51.1 yards

Net punting

40.8 yards



43.9 yards

Inside the 20





Starting point




31.4-yard line

Opp. starting point




21.4-yard line

Opponents punting

44.1 yards



41.2 yards

Opponents net punting

39.4 yards



35.2 yards

Field goals made



Phil & SD


Field goal percentage

86.2 percent



94.7 percent

Opponents FG percentage

78.4 percent



69.2 percent

Extra-point percentage

100 percent


16 teams

100 percent

Points scored




24 points

Points allowed



9 teams

0 points

Blocked kicks for



Tampa Bay


Blocked kicks against



8 teams










4 teams







The Chiefs were in the top half of the league in 13 categories, in the top 10 in seven areas and the bottom 10 in four stats.

Credit for the Chiefs special teams performance has to go to assistant coach Steve Hoffman who should get consideration as special teams coach of the year and ranks as one of the best moves that head coach Todd Haley made in his rookie season as head coach.

Hoffman had never handled the entire kicking game before, despite many years in the league where he handled the kickers and punters. But it was Hoffman that worked out and was sold on Succop and his potential and although they were dented for a pair of TDs by Cribbs, overall they did a good job on coverage even though the units were constantly changing personnel because of injuries and roster moves.

Here’s the link to Goose’s story in the Morning News and the completing rankings.


The remaking of the Chiefs front office continues with more changes expected by the end of this month.

Bob Moore who served for more than 20 years as the team’s public relations director has moved into a new role as team historian and is working to complete and open the team’s new Hall of Honor that is part of the Arrowhead Stadium renovation.

The Chiefs have renamed the public relations director position as the director of communications and if you’d like to apply, all you have to do is click here. In a move that I’ve not seen in over 30 years of covering the NFL, the Chiefs are advertising for the position. Usually this type of job search comes with the franchise having someone in mind for the job, but that’s obviously not the case as the team tries to fill Moore’s very big shoes.

So what does a director of communications do? According to the Internet want ad from the team, with the Chiefs someone serving in that role will:

“Direct and manage all communications staff to ensure that all functions meet or exceed organizational standards. This individual will work closely with local, regional and national media outlets and individuals; play an active role in management of marketing, community relations, player development and brand management in conjunction with peers; and manage all aspects of communications by working collaboratively with Football operations and Executive management.”

If  you always wanted to work in the NFL, this might be your chance.


  • NFL DRAFT – Georgia Tech WR Demaryus Thomas suffered a broken foot on Wednesday while working out.
  • BROWNS – released RB Jamal Lewis
  • COWBOYS – team V.P. Stephen Jones says the club will not apply the franchise tag to potential RFA WR Miles Austin.
  • PANTHERS – reached agreement with DT Ed Johnson (Colts).
  • RAVENS – signed WR Donte Stallworth.
  • REDSKINS – named Richmond Flowers III as coaching assistant.
  • STEELERS – signed CB David Pittman and LB Renauld Williams (CFL).
  • TITANS – new deal with G Eugene Amano was five years, $25.7 million with $10.5 million in guaranteed money; punter Craig Hentrich announced his decision to retire.


Born on February 18, 1977 in Waxahachie, Texas was LG Brian Waters. He joined the Chiefs in 2000, after coming into the NFL the year before with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted tight end out of North Texas State. Waters was released at the end of the pre-season and signed with the Chiefs late in 1999 and was assigned to the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe where he played center. He’s now played in 147 games with 133 starts. Waters has appeared in four Pro Bowls and earlier this month was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner for the 2009 season.

And born on February 18, 1986 in Delray Beach, Florida was CB Brandon Flowers. He was selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech. Flowers has played in 29 games with 29 starts and has seven career interceptions, including a 91-yard return for a touchdown against the New York Jets in his rookie season. Flowers has 143 total tackles in his career with four forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles.

Other former Chiefs with a February 18 birthday are RB Michael Gunter (1961), LB Todd Howard (1965) and RB Leroy Keyes (1947).

8 Responses to “Special Rankings … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 18, 2010  - Mad Chief says:

    Hey Bob…you’re going to apply for that director of communications job, right?

  • February 18, 2010  - St. Paul 1 says:

    Interesting ranking system, but it doesn’t seem that well thought out. I wonder if a system giving some of the categories more weight than others wouldn’t yield a more accurate picture.

    For instance, I give Colquitt and Succup all the credit in the world, but the Chiefs’ horrible return units and kickoff coverage would seem to make up for that.

    Two more thoughts: how are Succup’s kickoffs? Does he have some deficiencies that are adding to the opponents’ kickoff return stats?

    Also, are the punting stats and the punt coverage stats aided by the problems the Chiefs had in moving the ball? In other words, is Colquitt aided by the fact that he is often punting from Chiefs’ territory, and thus can punt as high and hard as he wants, without worrying too much about touch? I don’t mean this rhetorically – I am actually asking because I don’t know that much about punting.

  • February 18, 2010  - SG says:

    Please…we do not want Jamal Lewis.

  • February 18, 2010  - Danny W says:

    It will be all set with some added depth at linebacker for tackling on special teams, and then if we get a fast kick returner outside of the guy who is carring the whole load at running back we will field the best special teams unit in the whole nation

  • February 18, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I for one, if we dont have kolby smith, we could use a Jamaal Lewis as a relief 2-3rd back.

    Id pay Miles Austin almost anything to get him here. We have got to get players like that on this team to be a contender!

  • February 18, 2010  - Mad Chief says:


    I’d rather have LT than Lewis. Can you imagine how motivated LT would be against the Chargers twice a year?

  • February 18, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    I agree, he would run like a pissed off bull! I dont care if its LT or Lewis, we need another back, everyone knows this. Id like to see and experienced running back to take some carries with Charles. We need a guy to pound it in, and help take a beating

  • February 18, 2010  - Lenny says:

    Holy crap, i had no idea i shared a birthday with waters and flowers. Pretty cool.

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