Justin Reid’s hitting skills not to be taken lightly for Chiefs
Don’t laugh at the thought of Justin Reid kicking field goals. This could prove to be an invaluable asset for the Kansas City Chiefs.
There were 20 seconds left in the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs’ preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. After a pass from Chiefs quarterback Shane Buechele found wide receiver Justin Watson for a touchdown, the Chiefs special teams unit took to the field. Obviously, it wasn’t Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who has the second-highest field goal percentage in NFL history, who lined up for the kick. Instead, it was security Justin Reid.
And he succeeded.
Although a bit wobbly, the ball sailed right through the middle of the big sticks.
Last Saturday’s preseason outing wasn’t the first time Reid’s skills were on display – last year he kicked off Houston’s game against Tampa Bay, sending the ball up at the goal line.
And earlier in training camp, Reid scored a basket from inside his own half.
It’s easy to dismiss the moment as just a preseason shenanigans or another example of Andy Reid being Andy Reid — more on that later — but I don’t think the moment’s potential significance should go unnoticed.
There’s no way Reid will line up in front of the big sticks over Butker in any situation that’s even at significant distance. But there is one situation, however, where Reid’s skills could prove invaluable. NFL teams typically don’t have two kickers on their active roster, and if Butker were to fall in warmups or get injured during a game, that would leave the Chiefs struggling.
It’s not just a random hypothetical scenario. That’s exactly what happened to the Carolina Panthers last season in their game against the Buffalo Bills. Panthers kicker Zane Gonzalez was injured in the warmup, and since no one else on his roster was able to take a kick, Carolina went for two two-point conversions after their touchdowns and did not attempt a field goal the entire game.
Now imagine if that happened to the Chiefs this year, and imagine if it was in a key regular season matchup, or even in the playoffs – what would the Chiefs do?
First thoughts might go to Tommy Townsend, but the third-year punter has no career goals or extra point attempts, including during his college career. The punt and the kick, although they are both performed with the feet, are obviously two very different skills, and it shouldn’t be assumed that it’s not because you can do one. that you can do the other. Carolina opted not to let their punter Lac Edwards even attempt a single field goal or an extra point against Buffalo after Gonzalez went down.
Looking back in recent NFL history, punters taking kicks haven’t really been common. In fact, in the past three seasons, only four NFL punters — Bradley Pinion, Mitch Wishnowsky, Jamie Gillan and Ty Long — have attempted a field goal or extra run in a game. Long was seven of nine on field goals and made his nine extra point attempts in 2019, while Wishnowsky and Pinion were both one-for-two on their XPAs last season and both missed their only attempt at placement. Gillan missed his only FGA in 2020.
Townsend strength be able to step in if Butker is unavailable, but we don’t know for sure if he would be able to do so. At least with Reid, the Chiefs know he would be able to score a field goal or an extra point if called.
It might be a laughing stock for now, but who knows when this skill might be invoked when needed. Maybe an extra point or a field goal from Justin Reid proves to be the difference in a key regular-season victory over the LA Chargers, or maybe he fills the role in a playoff game. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense are arguably the team best equipped to go there all the time on fourth down or rely solely on two-point conversions. But as we saw against Buffalo in the playoffs last season, sometimes you need a field goal to tie the game.
Even if Butker remains healthy, we could still go for the amounts in a game this season. Coach Reid has shown in the past that he loves giving his players the chance to do something cool during a game – it’s been Dontari Poe’s TD pass against the Denver Broncos or Nick Allegretti’s touchdown in a playoff game against Pittsburgh.
After scoring his extra point against Chicago and with evidence that he clearly practiced preseason with the Chiefs, Reid showed his hitting skills are legit. It may never happen, but Reid’s striking abilities give the Chiefs a backup option that could prove invaluable in a game that matters on the road.