Why the Chiefs never signed place kicker Morten Andersen sooner than the 2002 season especially when Lin Elliot was on the roster, is still a total mystery. I know, the memory pains the fan but it's important to note that the Chiefs now have a kicker who can put the ball in the middle of the uprights if they game's outcome is on the line. They also have a return game thanks to the brilliant skills of Dante Hall.
On the kicking side, Morten Andersen is an amazing athlete. Though his position is not as physical as the man he seems to be chasing in the history books, former Oakland Raiders Kicker George Blanda, Andersen, who is 42 years young, was a key contributor the success of the Chiefs in 2002.
Andersen missed only a couple of field goals in 2002; a big one at home against Denver and one on the road at San Francisco. But he made the game winner against Cleveland and stabilized a position that had been in flux under Lin Elliott and Pete Stoyanovich. The Chiefs have been lucky to be blessed with great kickers like Jan Stenarud and Nick Lowery and there is no reason Andersen won't be just as good as he enters his 22nd year in the NFL.
But the problem for the Chiefs in their kicking game is kickoffs. Andersen hurt his knee in 2003 and had his meniscus muscle removed in his plant leg. I've had that done and it can be painful. He did his best to kickoff but routinely kicked the ball to the 15-yard line on average and that offered the opposing team great field position.
The Chiefs have an option to solve that problem when they signed former San Francisco 49ers place kicker Jose Cortez. He can boot the ball in the end zone on kickoff's but he can't hit the uprights from 20 yards out. He was cut by the 49ers because he constantly pulled the ball to the left on short kicks. He was later picked up by the Washington Redskins and then released and signed by the Chiefs in the spring.
The Chiefs are expected to score a lot of points this year and the defense is a question mark until they prove that the off-season moves work on the field. So with that in mind, the Chiefs might be well advised to carry both kickers. That means they carry one less person on the active roster each week but it could be at the cost of another running back or wide receiver.
Andersen has done an admirable job in practice but they don't want to wear him down and if he handles the kickoff duties as many as four to eight times per game, he could shank a crucial field goal down the stretch or god forbid in the playoffs.
Other teams in the NFL have done this in the past, most notably division rival Denver, but the Chiefs are going to have to see the true need in this idea over the course of the pre-season. They can always do this later in the year but Andersen is so valuable to this team and the last thing Chiefs fans can absorb is Andersen getting hurt on a kickoff.