KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The popular perception about new Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub is that, while in Chicago, he was only as good as the mega-talented Devin Hester.
But while Hester developed into the NFL’s all-time leader in kick (punt and kickoff) return touchdowns with 17 under Toub’s guidance, it wasn’t only Hester that excelled on the Chicago Bears’ special teams.
During his nine years in Chicago, Toub also coached five other kick returns for touchdowns. And under Toub, returners Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning combined to average 27 yards a return on kickoffs along with two touchdowns.
Obviously, Toub’s schemes had something to do with the Bears’ incredible special teams success. And under Toub, Bears special teamers received eight Pro Bowl nods.
“Actually, a lot of the success (in Chicago) had to do with basic philosophy,” Toub said. “And there are obviously some things that we want to install (with the Chiefs) as far as our philosophy goes – it’s a different philosophy, not that the other one was wrong here. But we want to try to create and we want to put the pressure on the opponent.
“We don’t want things to happen to us; we want it to happen for us. So it’s a totally different type of philosophy than they might have had here before.”
Chiefs fans will find out rather quickly just what kind of a magic touch Toub has. The Chiefs haven’t returned a kick for a touchdown since Dexter McCluster returned a punt 94 yards for a score during the opening game of the 2010 season.
The Chiefs’ return game has been stagnant ever since. But Toub does see some potential with returners such as McCluster, Javier Arenas, and Devon Wylie.
“Yeah, I think we certainly have three guys I think we’re going to let battle it out – Arenas, Wylie and McCluster,” Toub said. “McCluster is somebody that’s very intriguing to me. He can really make you miss and I just think he’s got a lot of untapped potential as a punt returner.
“So we’ll let all three of those guys battle it out and may the best man win.”
Toub will have at least some talent, potentially, he didn’t have in Chicago – a big-time punter in Dustin Colquitt.
Colquitt, though, is in his free-agent year.
“There are a lot of guys I like,” Toub said. “I think there are some young players coming up that look pretty good. I particularly like our punter, I like him a lot. I’ve never really had a punter that bombed a ball like this. We’ve had directional punters with Brad Maynard and Adam Podlesch before. We were a directional cover team where we were going to try to kick the ball outside the numbers.
“Dustin, he more kind of bombs the ball. He’s working on being directional, but he’s going to bomb the ball and give you good hangtime and distance at the same time. We’ll have to adjust a little bit more to him because he is quite the athlete.”
Obviously, Toub would like to see the Chiefs re-sign Colquitt.
“I’d like to,” he said. “But we’ll see. That’s not up to me. That’s up to Andy Reid and the GM.”
As for kicker Ryan Succop, Toub is anxious to see him take the next step forward in his career.
“Ryan is a young kicker that I think the sky is the limit,” Toub said. “I have a guy on my staff, Kevin O’Dea, who is an expert in my opinion as far as a kicking coach goes. All the potential that Ryan has, Kevin will bring it out. I think Ryan has a lot to offer for us.”
Overall, Toub is hoping to create an environment that special teams are not the ugly stepchild – they are an important piece, a winning piece, to the puzzle.
“Our mentality at Chicago when we were there was we were going to win games on special teams,” Toub said. “That’s something that Lovie [Smith] instilled in us early on, like the first year. We felt like we had the personnel to be able to do it and then especially when we picked up Devin [Hester] in 2006.
“But even before that we kind got of got that philosophy going and kind of instilled that into our guys, that we were going to win games with field position and play solid defense, cover well on punts and not beat ourselves. That was our goal up there and I definitely think it makes a big difference.
“It’s got to be important to be on special teams. (Players have) got to feel privileged to be on special teams. We put a lot of emphasis in it and we create a competitive atmosphere out there to where if you were a starter on special teams, you really earned it. It’s something that the guys really take a lot of pride in and then when you start scoring and you start blocking punts and you start blocking field goals and you’re actually winning games for your team. It just kind of snowballs and it kind of grows for you