How will Dave Toub’s new position influence Chiefs roster decisions?
By Matt Conner
A rarely discussed coaching change this offseason could have more sway on roster decisions than we’ve realized for the Chiefs.
The coaching decisions have already been discussed at great length.
When the Chicago Bears poached Matt Nagy from Andy Reid’s coaching staff for their new head coach, we talked all about it. When Reid made it clear that Bob Sutton would be retained as defensive coordinator, we discussed that as well. When Eric Bieniemy was promoted, we examined the ramifications. We even made note of new faces in low places.
But the Kansas City Chiefs also made one more coaching move this offseason that went largely unnoticed, a title change that flew largely under the radar that could have more influence this time of year than we might realize.
When Dave Toub went largely ignored through the hiring frenzy, it was clear he would return to K.C. as the Chiefs special teams coach. The Chiefs in response added three words to that job description: assistant head coach. It felt like an honorable nod to a man who deserved more attention than he’s gotten because so few teams are willing to make a leap from special teams to head coach.
Aside from a tip of the cap to Toub, however, it’s unlikely that any of us thought anything more of the news. Reid will run the ship. Toub will captain his unit. The order remains the same. Right?
This is the point at which we should have lingered a bit more, asking ourselves what it means for Toub to have that title. The reason is because it looks now like Toub might hold more sway over personnel decisions than we otherwise might have guessed.
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A quick example. Let’s take Ben Niemann. Toub is out there with a recent quote saying, “He’s someone I can trust. He’s beyond his years…nothing is going to hold him back.”
That might be true but is that something an assistant coach says about a rookie free agent if he doesn’t believe he has the wherewithal to keep that player around. Do you publicly say that about a player your team is going to waive for the sake of placing him on the practice squad? Instead it sounds like a man with some authority enough to get his guys on the final 53, as long as they obviously square with everyone else.
If Toub has a newfound level of influence, it will be interesting to see if guys who excel on special teams are kept over other players who might have better offensive potential but less S/T use. For example, Toub has made it very clear that he’s a big fan of De’Anthony Thomas. That’s not to say that everyone else doesn’t feel the same way, but Toub is on record saying he’s the toughest player, pound for pound, on the roster. If DAT is kept over some of the younger and more promising wide receivers (if you’re only thinking about WR play), that might signal Toub’s authority.
Quick disclaimer: I’m not in any way saying that Toub has wrestled control of personnel decisions or even that he holds as much sway as Reid at all. We also could be completely reading into things. Maybe Toub is simply the same old guy with the same amount of influence who was given a shiny new title with no real-world implications.
But as we watch the Chiefs start to make the difficult choices of who stays and who goes over the next two weeks, think about who might be the most vocal about each player’s case. It will be interesting to see if Toub’s new title has some real push at this time of year.