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Q&A with Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub

Posted Jan 28, 2013

Q: You’ve been coaching special teams in the NFL for awhile. How much difference can a special teams coach make?

TOUB: “They can make all the difference in the world. What do you think I’m going to say? No, no, no. They do. I think you can win games; our mentality at Chicago when we were there was we were going to win games on special teams. That’s something that Lovie [Smith] instilled in us early on, like the first year. We felt like we had the personnel to be able to do it and then especially when we picked up Devin [Hester] in 2006. But even before that we kind got of got that philosophy going and kind of instilled that into our guys, that we were going to win games with field position and play solid defense, cover well on punts and not beat ourselves. That was our goal up there and I definitely think it makes a big difference.”

Q: Talking to people about you, they say that you really get guys to buy in. What’s your message, how do you do that?

TOUB: “Well, it’s just that, you don’t want to be the stepchild. It’s got to be important to be on special teams. They’ve got to feel privileged to be on special teams. We put a lot of emphasis in it and we create a competitive atmosphere out there to where if you were a starter on special teams, you really earned it. It’s something that the guys really take a lot of pride in and then when you start scoring and you start blocking punts and you start blocking field goals and you’re actually winning games for your team, it just kind of snowballs and it kind of grows for you.”

Q: What are your thoughts on what you’ve seen from the Chiefs from last year on special teams?

TOUB: “I see a lot of guys that play hard. There are obviously some things that we want to install as far as our philosophy goes – it’s a different philosophy, not that the other one was wrong, but we want to try to create and we want to put the pressure on the opponent. We don’t want things to happen to us, we want it to happen for us. So it’s a totally different type of philosophy than they might have had here before. There are a lot of guys I like. I think there are some young players coming up that look pretty good. I particularly like our punter, I like him a lot. I’ve never really had a punter that bombed a ball like this, we’ve had directional punters with Brad Maynard and Adam Podlesh before, we were a directional cover team where we were going to try to kick the ball outside the numbers. Whereas Dustin [Colquitt], he more kind of bombs the ball. He’s working on being directional, but he’s going to bomb the ball and give you good hangtime and distance at the same time. We’ll have to adjust a little bit more to him because he is quite the athlete.”

Q: Sounds like you guys are planning to re-sign him?

TOUB: “I’d like to. But we’ll see. That’s not up to me, that’s up to Andy Reid and the GM.”

Q: You don’t have a Devin Hester here. What have you seen from Javier Arenas, Dexter McCluster, Devon Wylie and some of the other guys who have been returning here?

TOUB: “Yeah, I think we certainly have three guys I think we’re going to let battle it out – Arenas, Wylie and McCluster. McCluster is somebody that’s very intriguing to me. He can really make you miss and I just think he’s got a lot of untapped potential as a punt returner. So we’ll let all three of those guys battle it out and may the best man win.”

Q: You talked about Colquitt a minute ago, what do you see from K Ryan Succop?

TOUB: “Ryan is a young kicker that I think the sky is the limit. I have a guy on my staff, Kevin O’Dea, who is an expert in my opinion as far as a kicking coach goes. All the potential that he [Ryan] has, he [Kevin] will bring it out. I think he has a lot to offer for us.”

Q: People talk about all the return touchdowns you have had on special teams. They don’t talk about how few returns against your team you have had. Can you talk about how that happens?

TOUB: “It is more than just return game; you have to be able to cover kicks as well. That is a major part that we do as far as our philosophy. We don’t want to give up anything, that is our goal. Like last year for instance on punt, because it is still in my mind, we only gave up 3.3 yards per return. You have to be able to have the good return game, but you also have to be able to cover your kicks as well and establish field position for your defense.”

Q: Under Lovie Smith, how often did he let you have starters from offense or defense on your special teams units?

TOUB: “That is a good question. What Lovie allowed me to do, if a player was a starter, we could use him on one phase. We had four phases: punt, punt return, kickoff and kickoff return. Those four phases we could use a starter on one phase. If I needed to use them and they were better than anybody else that we had, I was able to use them on one phase. For instance, a guy like Charles Tillman, who just got done playing in the Pro Bowl, I used him as a corner on punt return. He was able to lock down their best gunner singlehandedly so I was able to double other guys. That really helps when you are able to use starters that are better than the guys that you have as backups.”

Q: What kinds of effects have the rule changes on kickoff had since they were instituted?

TOUB: “Well, you have to drop deeper. As far as kickoff return goes, your front line has to get back deeper. Everything is happening way back by the end zone if you haven’t noticed it. All the blocks, where they used to happen at the 30, now they happen at the 25. Everything is back 5 to even almost 10 yards deeper. Then you also notice guys are coming out with the ball deeper too. They are taking a shot on goal and that was one of the things that we wanted to do at Chicago with Devin Hester and other returners that we’ve had in the past. We wanted to come out and put the pressure on the kickoff coverage teams. We didn’t take a lot of touchbacks, even after the rule changes. We were coming out sometimes nine deep. The flip side of that is you better get it out there past the 20, on the other token you are also putting the pressure on the kickoff unit where they have to cover every kick. It is a good mindset to have. That is what you are seeing; you are also seeing a lot of touchbacks on the kickoff side of it. I can’t remember what our number was last year with Robbie [Gould], but you are getting a lot of touchbacks. Guys are driving the ball and trying to hit it out of the back of the end zone. Hopefully we can get that with Ryan Succop too as well.”

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