The Kansas City Chiefs have the AFC’s best record at 8-2, but that certainly doesn’t mean the team is without weakness.
For the Chiefs, one glaring weak spot is the special teams’ return unit. The Chiefs currently average just 7.6 yards per punt return, which ranks 20th out of 32 NFL teams.
The kick return numbers don’t get any better, either, as the Chiefs average just 18.9 yards per kick return. That number is good for the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. To make things even worse, the aforementioned numbers represent the product of the sixth-most punt returns (23) and the NFL’s most kick returns (27).
Meaning, we have a plenty big enough sample size to dub the Chiefs’ return units as “not good”. A big part of the problem is not having a guy like Tyreek Hill to field kicks.
Sure, there isnt’ an NFL player in the league like Hill, so it would be counterintuitive and disastrous to set the bar that high.
But at same time, the Chiefs need better play and production from the guys they have put on the field since the Hill trade. Even with last week’s fumble, the Chiefs seem comfortable with rookie running back Isiah Pacheco returning kickoffs.
But, the Chiefs really need to find someone who can be effective returning punts. Especially with Mecole Hardman, their best returner, on IR.
There’s one guy who may put his name in the hat soon, however, and that’s rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie.
“Yeah, there’s a lot of thought,” Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Tuesday when asked if he’s thought about using McDuffie on punt returns. “He’s a lot closer now than he would be – obviously – last week, with (Kadarius) Toney being banged up.
We’ll get him back in there at practice and get him ready to go. He’s not far off. I mean I think Skyy (Moore) is a guy that’s probably the next – obviously – he was the next guy in.
So, he’ll be up and ready to roll this week, but we have other guys too. “… We feel comfortable with some of the guys we got, but (Trent) McDuffie is definitely one of them that we got to get him up to speed and ready to go. But he’s also a corner on punt returns.
He’s now starting in there for us because I took (L’Jarius) Sneed off of that. “… So, you take him out and use him at punt returner, you have to find somebody at corner.
So right now, he’ll be that guy, but he’ll also be a backup punt returner.” Moore’s last three punts have gone for six-, zero-, and two-yards, respectively.
He has 86 punt return yards on 13 attempts this year, which is good for an average of 6.6 yards per return. Per Pro Football Focus, that ranks 30th out of 35 punt returners with at least seven punt returns on the year. So, it’s easy to see why the thought of McDuffie at punt returner is a common thought with Toub, right now.
McDuffie not only has the skillset for the job, but he returned a few punts in college, so he has some experience.
Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how the Chiefs eventually arrive at their final conclusion. Whether it continues to be Moore or changes, Toub and co. are running out of time to find an answer that could help make the Chiefs the NFL’s most well-rounded team if it is indeed found.