Despite how my last few blogs may make it seem, it wasn't all doom and gloom during Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. There were tons of fantastic finishes, and we got to see what may end up being the future of special teams.
Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker tweaked his ankle early in their game against the Cardinals, forcing safety and emergency kicker Justin Reid into action. Butker would eventually return to the game.
The NFL hates when fans share its content, so click on THIS to see a video of every Justin Reid kick from Sunday.
Reid went 1/2 on PATs and kicked off SEVEN times, five of which were touchbacks while filling in for Butker.
This dude's got a leg on him. He boomed it out of the end zone. Sure the accuracy might not be there, he shanked one of his PATs pretty badly, but I'm more concerned with the kickoff aspect for this blog.
Kicking specialists have only been a thing since the 1940s; even then, it was rare. It wasn't until Pete Gogolak in the mid-1960s that we saw the first "soccer-styled" kickers, and teams dedicated a roster spot to pure kickers. Before that, kickers were usually big offensive linemen who used their power to toe the ball. Your Lou Grozas and Jerry Kramers of the world. Sure some other positions kicked too, but there were a lot of guards/kickers at this time. During this era, field goal percentages were gross. 60% was fantastic. Nowadays, if you're under 85%, you're a bum.
For field goals and extra points, definitely keep the specialists. Have them focus on scoring points, but if you have a guy on your team that can boot it through the endzone or pin the ball deep, forcing a return attempt, wouldn't it be better for your kickoff coverage to have a better athlete on the field?
Sure there are some examples of kickers being athletic. Everybody loves when they end up making a tackle. McAfee had a couple of big hits in his day. Adam Vinatieri famously laid out Herschel Walker (if you vote for him, you have rocks in your head), but I think the Chiefs may be onto something here.
I don't expect Butker to lose his kickoff role, but the game is always changing. I'm spitballing here, but I wouldn't be surprised if a team started using a Justin Reid-type player for kickoffs. An athletic safety or linebacker type gives you another solid defender on kickoff coverage. It makes the game 11 on 11 instead of 11 on 10 or sometimes 11 on 10 and a half if you've got a McAfee-type out there.