New hire a special gift to Chiefs fans
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs fans longing for the days when Tamarick Vanover and Dante Hall terrorized opposing special teams should rejoice in the team's hiring of Dave Toub on Tuesday.
Toub joins new Chiefs coach Andy Reid's staff as the team's special-teams coach, and brings with him a legacy of NFL success almost unparalleled.
Toub's special-teams units with the Bears finished in the top 10 in special-teams rankings in eight of his nine seasons in Chicago.
And under Toub, Devin Hester became the NFL's all-time leading scorer on punt and kickoff returns, and became an all-around nightmare to defend.
“Dave is one of the league’s best special teams minds,” Reid said. “I have spent time with him at a number of different coaching stops, and I feel he will bring an innovative approach and consistency to this group. Dave will get the most out of our players.”
Toub's creativity was never more apparent than in a game against the Green Bay Packers in 2011.
Late in that game, Packers punter Tim Masthay punted toward Hester, who ran hard toward one sideline while appearing to be ready to signal a fair catch. Predictably, the entire Packers coverage team swarmed toward the dangerous Hester.
But the punt actually had been kicked to the opposite sideline where Johnny Knox fielded it and easily ran 88 yards untouched for an apparent touchdown. The only Packer who knew where the ball had been kicked was, of course, Masthay. But Masthay was blocked to clear the final hurdle for Knox.
The incredible play (watch here), though, was called back on a holding penalty called while the punt was in the air.
“That was the greatest play I have ever seen,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said at the time. “That was one for the ages.”
The Chiefs certainly could use some inventiveness on special teams.
The Chiefs haven't scored on a punt or kickoff return in 47 games, the last one coming on a Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium when the Chiefs opened the 2010 season with a win over San Diego – Dexter McCluster's 94-yard punt return for a score was instrumental in the win.
The Chiefs' return game has been woefully inadequate since.
Last year, the Chiefs' longest kickoff return was just 41 years, and the team finished 24th in the league with a 21.6 average. The Chiefs were 21st on punt returns with an 8.7 average, the long being just 27 yards.
In 2011, the Chiefs were 30th in kickoff returns with a a 21.3 average – the long being just 35 yards. And in 2010, the Chiefs were 28th in the league in kickoff returns with a paltry 19.7 average.
In other words, it has been a long time since Chiefs fans experienced the excitement created by someone such as Hester or Hall, who in the early 2000s set a franchise record with six kickoff returns for touchdowns, and five punt returns for touchdowns.
“To win in this league, you need to score in many ways,” former Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil once said of Hall. “And with Dante Hall returning kicks, it's almost like having another offense on the field.”
Vanover was almost as dangerous with Marty Schottenheimer's Chiefs, returning four kickoffs for touchdowns and four punts for touchdowns.
Toub and Reid have a long history together. They both worked for Bob Stull, first at UTEP and then at Missouri.
Reid also gave Toub his first job in the NFL in 2001 as an assistant special teams coach (to John Harbaugh) and as an assistant defensive line coach when Reid coached the Philadelphia Eagles.
Toub was an original hire on Lovie Smith's staff, and had interviewed to be Smith's replacement.