Move #8 – Let's Get a Kick

If we learned one thing in the playoffs, it's that kickers play an important role in the outcome of nearly every victory. With the league approaching a newfound competitive balance, kickers have never been more important. The Chiefs have a decision to make with Lawrence Tynes.

Logic dictates that the Chiefs are probably going to look for a new kicker this offseason after Tynes botched a chip-shot field goal in the playoffs at Indianapolis. It might not have been the deciding factor in the game, but it didn't help.

Who knows what could have happened after Tynes' field-goal attempt. Maybe the Colts would have fumbled the ensuing kickoff, resulting in an Indy meltdown.

It's also totally unfair to blame that loss on Tynes. I'm not going to do that, but the recent playoffs tell me the Chiefs need a more reliable kicker.

Tynes has been both consistent and inconsistent the last three years. Overall he's been nails under 30 yards, hitting hitting all 23 of his kicks – less the one against the Colts.

Under 40 he's 23 of 27. He's struggled from 40-49, where he's only hit 14 of 24. That won't cut it in the NFL and nobody understands that more than Tynes.

Just look at how many long field goals were made and attempted in the playoffs. Indy's Adam Vinatieri hit all 11 of his field goal attempts. That's insane, but if he'd missed any of them the Colts might not have made it to the Super Bowl. Everyone can't be as perfect as Vinatieri, but late in the game you know he has about a 95 percent chance of making any kick he attempts.

New England's Stephen Gostowski hit all eight of his attempts in the playoffs and he's a rookie. For the season he hit 76.9 percent, slightly below that of Tynes, who hit 77.4 percent of his attempts.

But who would you rather have as your kicker in the playoffs? The Chiefs have not drafted a rookie kicker in quite sometime.

Another rookie who found his footing in the playoffs was Penn State product Robbie Gould, who defeated the Seahawks in overtime in the NFC Divisional game. He calmly nailed all five of his post season attempts. During the regular season he hit 88.9 percent.

My point is that the Chiefs need to scour the Senior Bowl and study up on some game film to find a kicker who can compete with Tynes (if they re-sign him). Otherwise, they need to look at the free agent kicker list - which doesn't have any names that really jump out.

Both the Patriots and Bears snagged players from the draft who weren't highly rated coming out of college, so part of it was luck. The other was great scouting. Let's face it - you never know what a kicker is going to do in the NFL until they either succeed or fail.

The best college prospects are Colorado's Mason Crosby, UCLA's Justin Medlock, Virginia Tech's Brandon Pace and Eastern Michigan's Andrew Wellock.

But there is something to be said for keeping Tynes. He's probably one of the most likable guys in KC's locker room and he's also a player who never makes excuses. If he misses a kick, he owns up to it. If he makes one he has the confidence to keep making them.

The other thing about Tynes the Chiefs have to factor in is his leadership abilities. He's not a "rah-rah" guy, but he has the respect of his teammates, and for a kicker he's a true blue football player. He has that swagger and distinct mindset generally reserved for non special-teams players.

He has a good situation in Kansas City because he has a great holder in punter Dustin Colquitt and the best deep snapper ever in Kendall Gammon. He's someone who I really believe can be a clutch kicker, but that's not my decision to make.

Special teams coach Mike Priefer did wonders with Colquitt last season. He has him on an All-Pro path. But Tynes slightly regressed and addressing that issue has to be his focus in theoff season. I'm not sure of Prifer's stance on Tynes but he probably knows him better than anyone.

Tynes' leg is plenty strong, but his inconsistency with kicks between 40-49 yards can't be ignored. I'm not sure if it's a confidence issue, but it has to be corrected if Tynes is going to get a shot at the job next year. Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards need to determine if he's worthy of a new contract.

I know all the Chiefs scouts and coaches are at the Senior Bowl so they'll probably jot down a few names that could be available in the third or fourth rounds of April's draft.

They had success when they drafted Colquitt in the third round in 2005 and they might need to strike again by taking one of the better kickers available.

The San Diego Chargers used a second round pick on Nate Kaeding three years ago and he made it to the Pro Bowl this year. Of course he missed a potential game tying kick against the Patriots in the playoffs so the jury is still out on his abilities in the postseason. It was the second poor outing of his career. Two years ago he laid an egg against the Jets in a home playoff game.

So with kickers, you never know. If the Chiefs don't sign Tynes and he jumps to another team and has a lights out season, then the problem might lie elsewhere.

Bottom line is that playoff teams need a reliable kicker, and that includes the Chiefs.

Tomorrow: Move #9 - Drafting Defense Top Stories