The Kansas City Chiefs deserved to lose to the Indianapolis Colts for a multitude of reasons, but none more than their putrid performance on special teams.
The Kansas City Chiefs lost 20-17 on Sunday to an inferior Indianapolis Colts team. There was plenty of blame to go around after the game. The offense couldn’t get in rhythm and has issues in pass protection, running the ball, and finding consistency with their new receiving core. The defense played great most of the day, but a personal foul call on Chris Jones extended the Colts game-winning drive and the defense couldn’t recover. While that’s all true and I could spend this entire post dissecting those issues, none of them compare to the absolute train wreck that was the Chiefs special teams on Sunday.
I have been following the Chiefs for decades. I have been writing about the Chiefs for almost 12 years here at Arrowhead Addict. I have NEVER seen a special teams performance that was that putrid from start to finish and had that big of impact on a KC loss. Yes, there have been bad special teams performances in losses before. Yes, there have been big special teams plays that lost them games, but the sheer volume of embarrassing blunders in this one game was mind-boggling.
Let’s start with the first big one of the game, the Skyy Moore muffed punt. The Chiefs defense had a great three and out to start the game and instead of turning that into momentum for the offense, Moore lost the ball in the lights of the open dome roof. It was a massive turning point just minutes into the game. If the Chiefs could have taken that drive and scored they may have put the Colts in an early hole that they never climb out of, but instead they gifted them a seven point lead.
Now, I’m not really mad at Skyy Moore. He’s a rookie and I’m sure that isn’t an easy spot to track the football in the air. HOWEVER, when you have a rookie punt returner in that environment shouldn’t that be the kind of thing that special teams coach Dave Toub has him working on before the game. If they did work on it before the game and he was having trouble tracking the ball shouldn’t you coach him to get out of there and let it bounce free?
If that conversation didn’t happen it sure as heck should have happened after the muffed punt. So why in the wide, wide world of sports did it almost happen again just a few minutes later? What are you getting paid for Toub? Aren’t you supposed to be one of the top special teams coaches in the game? Coaching isn’t just smacking a guy on the back after he makes a mistake and saying “It’s okay, shake it off” it’s actually coaching them on what to do better next time. If Toub did do that with Moore and he still almost made the same mistake again then Toub shouldn’t have put him back there again in that game.
So just a few minutes into the game the defense had given KC two good stops and yet they found themselves down seven and pinned on their own one yard line because of bad special teams. I wish that was the end of the problems. The kick returns weren’t good either. Isiah Pacheco almost turned the ball over on one return. He repeatedly took the ball out of the endzone and didn’t make the yards up that the touchback would have given them. He had one decent return that raised his average to 18.8 yards, but that’s still not good. On the kick return with under 30 seconds to go in the game he just plowed straight ahead into the coverage.
The kick return coverage wasn’t good either. Isaiah Rodgers averaged 28.5 yards on two kick returns. The only bright spot all day on special teams was the punt unit where Tommy Townsend averaged 56.7 yards on three punts and put two inside the 20. Everything else was a complete mess. While everything except the punting was bad, if there was one part of the special teams that rivaled or surpassed the punt return issues with Moore early in the game as the biggest issue that cost the Chiefs this game it was the place kicking.
Actually, I don’t know what was worse, the actual place kicking or the decisions that the coaches made with the place kicking. Matt Ammendola can’t be on the roster next week. Sorry Matt, I don’t like calling for people’s job, but an NFL team can’t have a place kicker that misses easy kicks. Period. He missed an extra point and a field goal in a game that KC lost by three points. The Chiefs clearly didn’t trust Ammendola and you can’t keep a guy the staff has no trust in. It was bad enough that I honestly would have considered letting the Chiefs safety Justin Reid kick the potential game tying field goal had KC been able to get into field goal range in the final seconds.
That brings me to another really costly special teams blunder that helped cost the Chiefs this game, the fake field goal disaster. If you’re in a close game and you don’t trust your actual kicker to kick a basic field goal then the second best option is to let your former MVP, Super Bowl winning, All Pro quarterback throw the ball on 4th down. It is NOT to let punter Tommy Townsend throw the ball to a second string tight end on 4th and 10. So while Ammendola “only” missed one extra point and one field goal, KC’s lack of faith in him cost them getting points on an additional drive as well. That’s the ball game ladies and gentlemen.
This entire game the execution on special teams was abysmal, but this isn’t JUST on the players not playing well on special teams. This is absolutely on the coaching too. The decision making was terrible. The lack of having the players mentally prepared to execute was pretty evident. The lack of adjustments after mistakes was also evident. I understand that Dave Toub is a really respected special teams coach, but he has to look in the mirror after that game and understand the he and his unit cost the Chiefs a win in this game and if he won’t do that then Andy Reid needs to have that conversation with him (although I’m guessing Reid probably signed off on the fake field goal debacle).
Yes, the Kansas City Chiefs lost that game for a multitude of reasons. Yes, the Chiefs win if the offense plays better. Yes, the Chiefs win if it isn’t for the Chris Jones personal foul penalty, but there is no bigger culprit for this inexcusable loss than KC’s train wreck on special teams. The Chiefs need to address this issue and get it fixed NOW. While this game was by far the worst the special teams has been, we’ve seen signs of these issues all season. The first priority is to try another kicker if Harrison Butker isn’t ready for next week, but that is far from the only issues that Toub needs to clean up if the Chiefs want to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
What do you think Chiefs fans? Do you agree that this was the worst special teams performance we have ever seen from a Chiefs team? Do you agree that more than anything else the special teams cost them that game? Do you have confidence that Dave Toub can get this cleaned up? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.