Harrison Butker defends Tommy Townsend amid incumbent controversy

Harrison Butker defends Tommy Townsend amid incumbent controversy

In Sunday’s 30-24 overtime win over the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs placekicker Harrison Butker missed an extra point and 51-yard field goal attempt in the last minute. In an injury-shortened campaign, Butker has now missed five field goals and three extra point attempts in ten games.

Former Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt – first on Twitter and then on local sports radio – blamed his successor for Butker’s struggles. Colquitt — who spent 15 seasons as a Kansas City punter and starter — insists third-year punter Tommy Townsend’s catches are the reason for the placekicker inconsistency.

In the locker room before Tuesday’s training, Butker tried to solve the starter problem. He credited Townsend – along with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, special teams coordinator Dave Toub and long snapper James Winchester – for working together amid lackluster results.

“Dustin – he’s a huge Chiefs fan,” he said of his former teammate. “He obviously gave a lot to the whole community here – and I respect him enormously. I’m just trying to be the best kicker I can be. All the guys here – James, Tommy, Coach Toub, Coach Reid – are all the ones pushing us to do our best. And we listen to all these guys and try to improve every day.

Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

Butker reiterated that he is happy with the job his current incumbent is doing.

“James and Tommy are doing a great job,” he said, “and I have to finish it and get the ball into the uprights. I’ve been pleased with all the effort and hard work these guys have put in. Done. At the end of the day? If the ball is on the ground, it has to pass.”

In his remarks, Reid simply dismissed his former player’s idea that a holding issue is unresolved.

“We are looking at everything,” he said of the situation. “I’m not going to get into that, but there’s nothing that escapes us. We have to overcome this. They all take their responsibilities between the three of them. We will manage. »

A former player’s criticism carries no additional weight for the head coach.

“[Colquitt has] a big personality,” observed Reid. “He likes to give his opinion. I don’t worry about all that. We do our thing. We are studying all of this. Everyone has an opinion. I’m not worried at all.

Colquitt’s thesis, in short, is that Townsend’s grips consistently leave the laces of the soccer ball in the wrong position. Butker completely downplayed the issue.

“One thing I’ve been working on for the last two years,” he said, “is looking just under the ball so I don’t notice the laces turning – if there are laces that spin – because I can’t control that. And I like to think that no matter where the switchbacks are, I should always be able to hit a straight ball.

“It’s something that Tommy and I have been working on throughout our time together: just a few drills where Tommy lays the balls down and he spins them around. So I have to get better at hitting the ball basically starting with the ground under the ball so I don’t even notice a spinning ball.

“I think a lot of times kickers give too much credit to balls where the laces aren’t in place – or being skinny or whatever. I just take the approach of, ‘I can do better. I can fix that.’ I should be able to hit any ball through the uprights.

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The downside to dismissing Colquitt’s claims, however, is that if sockets aren’t the problem, then what is the problem? Citing great distance, Butker didn’t blame the lingering pain for his Week 1 injury.

“I have a lot of distance on the field goals,” he said. “I just have to keep working to make sure they pass.”

Butker and Reid both warned of sweeping changes to fix the problem in December.

“You have to trust the process,” Butker explained. “You can’t throw everything out the window and try to do something new.

“A big reason why a ball doesn’t go through – or why it goes through the middle – is just a small adjustment; a small small change. That’s the hardest part of kicking. You have to find that what is this small change – and to do it and achieve it.

Reid expects the player to surpass his recent struggles.

“You get yourself into a bit of a mess,” he observed, “and this ball looks small. All of a sudden you work through it and it looks big again. And you start to hit better. That’s where we’re at. We’re working on it. [I] still have a ton of confidence in the process. We just have to work through it.

Butker knows how to fix accuracy issues because he’s done it before. He cited a series of missed extra points as proof that the situation can improve.

“I know in 2020 I was missing all those extra points,” he recalled. “One of the things that helped me was not over-analyzing everything, because you can get to where you’re just trying to change too much – and you hurt yourself.

“You have to go back to the drawing board – always – if something goes wrong. And you better come back. That’s what I’m doing. I work hard.

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