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Appreciating The Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams

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Only 16 players are averaging double digit returns on punts so far this year in the NFL. The Chiefs have two of them. Most fans knew early on that the Chiefs special teams were going to be quite special (pardon the obvious pun) this year given the nature of the athleticism drafted in April alongside the solid coaching and legs of Ryan Succop and Dustin Colquitt. But the results have been tremendous, especially when compared to their competition.

Dexter McCluster leads the NFL with a 20.9 yards/return average on punts, including the longest punt return in the NFL this year at 94 yards. Javier Arenas sits at No. 16 on the list with a 10.6 average and a personal long of 36. The only competition close to McCluster is the famed Devin Hester, who has an incredible 16.7 average with several more returns than McCluster (17 to 7), including two for TDs. Kick returns, on the other hand, aren't so solid as both Chiefs players sit at 31 (McCluster) and 33 (Arenas) in terms of yards/return.

Still, this means the Chiefs are light years ahead of where they were last year and showcases the reason why Scott Pioli made sure to acquire such difference makers so early in the draft. In 2009, Bobby Wade ranked 22nd in the NFL at season's end in punt return average at 7.6, and his longest was only 18 yards. The spark of life or confidence a long return provides a team is seen time and again in the NFL and a lack of big play ability is part of the story of last year's losing efforts.

The punt return game is giving the Chiefs an incredible advantage in terms of field position, moving the chains an average of at least one first down in the opposite direction every time they receive. In essence, the Chiefs are already converting even as the offense is moving back on the field. It's hard to summarize just how much that helps an offense gain breathing room from being pinned deep in their own territory, as well as the confidence to move the ball on their own.