Thursday, January 2, 2014
Chiefs ride assertive attitude to return mark
By Adam Teicher
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have a new set of kickoff returners in Quintin Demps and Knile Davis and a bunch of different blockers from 2012, but the biggest change in their return unit is in the attitude instilled by first-year special-teams coordinator Dave Toub.
The Chiefs aren’t afraid to bring a kickoff out of the end zone in any situation regardless of how deep it might go. Only 38 percent of the kickoffs received by the Chiefs went for a touchback, the third-lowest percentage in the league.
While Demps and Davis and the blockers have played well, the Chiefs set an NFL record for kickoff return average at 29.9 yards because of their aggressive attitude.
“We come out a lot,’’ Toub said. “We come out deep, so that’s also another factor. Other teams might not come out where we come out. I think that’s all part of [the record].”
Kickoff return averages have dwindled in recent years. The record set by this year’s Chiefs was previously held by the 1972 Chicago Bears. The other teams in the top five by season average are the 1952 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1962 Washington Redskins and 1972 Baltimore Colts.
The Chiefs bucked that trend in a big way. Davis averaged 32.1 yards on 10 returns, including a 108-yard touchdown against the Denver Broncos.
Demps had enough returns to qualify for the league lead and finished third at 30.1 yards. He also scored a touchdown, a 95-yarder against the Washington Redskins.
“It’s such a long season and you get negative returns,’’ Toub said, explaining what the Chiefs were able to avoid. “You’ll get tackled for a 10-yard return. We’re consistently getting that ball out 25 yards and then occasionally will hit 50, and we’re able to keep it up there and it doesn’t sizzle out. That’s why I’m so proud of that because we had some good kickoff return teams at the Bears, but we never really came close to that average number.”