When the Kansas City Chiefs come to town, opposing coaches have their hands full. Doing that, however, is more easily said than done; dealing with Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill can give any defensive coordinator nightmares. The Chiefs don’t just have a stacked offense, though. On special teams, Harrison Butker shouldn’t be overlooked.
While it’s easy to overlook the importance of a field goal—most of the time, going for three means your offense has stalled—Butker proved his importance on Sunday. Thanks to their kicker’s offseason improvements, the Kansas City Chiefs will be even tougher to stop in 2020.
The Kansas City Chiefs have one of football’s top offenses
In the world of sports, there’s a cliche that says “defense wins championships.” While the Kansas City Chiefs did get some key stops down the stretch last year, they’re undeniably an offense-first team.
When push comes to shove, the Chiefs simply have an embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the ball. During his first two seasons as an NFL starter, Patrick Mahomes has proven capable of doing virtually anything on the gridiron; he’s also surrounded by legitimate playmakers, like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. KC also added Clyde Edwards-Hillaire in the 2020 draft and, to top things off, are led by one of the top offensive minds in modern football.
Unsurprisingly, the Chiefs have been an elite offense since Mahomes and And Reid teamed up. In 2018, the offense posted 565 total yards; the quarterback threw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns. While things slowed down a bit in 2019, Kansas City still piled up 451 points en route to their Super Bowl title.
Harrison Butker stole the show on Sunday
While the LA Chargers managed to frustrate the Chiefs all afternoon on Sunday, Kansas City eventually broke through. There was some Mahomes Magic down the stretch, but, surprisingly, someone else stole the show: kicker Harrison Butker.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Butker uncorked a 58-yard field goal to bring the Chiefs within eight points. He also converted a 30-yarder as the second half expired, sending the game to overtime. The kicker’s work, however, was far from done.
After the Chiefs defense forced a punt, Patrick Mahomes moved the ball down the field; the drive, however, stalled in Chargers territory. Andy Reid sent Butker onto the field, hoping to seal the victory with a 53-yarder.
Butker converted on the attempt, but a false start nullified the play; the penalty meant he’d have to take the next kick from 58 yards. He drilled that one, too, but the Chargers called a time out before the snap. Icing the kicker, however, didn’t work; Butker buried the game-winner on the third try and was carried off the field by his teammates.
Harrison Butker’s improvements will make the Kansas City Chiefs even tougher to stop
While Harrison Butker’s heroics made him the talk of NFL fans on Sunday, he didn’t bury four-straight kicks from 50 yards by accident. The kicker has made a concerted effort to improve his game over the years.
“Last season, I don’t know if I would have been consistent from that (58-yard) distance,” Butker explained, according to Arrowhead Pride. “If you look back to 2017 against the Texans — same turf, like I said. 49-yarder at the end of the game, barely made it over. So I definitely have a stronger leg than I did in 2017. Last year, I had a pretty strong leg but did not have the accuracy. This offseason, I was able to make a lot of long kicks and then going into training camp, I really wanted to show the coaches I could be consistent from that distance.”
While it’s easy to overlook special teams play, that improvement can make life significantly easier for the Kansas City Chiefs. Let’s say that, in an absolute worst-case scenario, an offensive possession starts inside the 10-yard line. If Butker can covert from the opposition’s 40, then Patrick Mahomes only has to gain 60 yards in order to score. With each additional yard, though, things only get easier; if the drive starts with a touchback, for example, the Chiefs will begin their drive 35 yards away from field goal range.
Although the weather can complicate things, Harrison Butker can make the Kansas City Chiefs’ collective lives much easier this season. No one wants to kick a field goal over scoring a touchdown, but special teams can make all the difference in close games. You don’t need to look any further than Sunday’s win over the Chargers for proof of that point.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference