ST. JOSEPH — Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop blasted field goals down the middle in practice the other day from 42 yards, from 52 yards, from 48 yards
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
He looked like the kicker who made a franchise-record six field goals in six chances last season at New Orleans, and not the one who experienced some uncharacteristic and team-deflating misses.
Succop made 28 of 34 field goals last season, his second-best percentage (82.4) since his rookie season of 2009 when his 25 of 29 (85.2) tied an NFL record as the best percentage by a rookie.
And in the process, Succop became the franchises all-time leader in career field-goal percentage last season, having made 97 of 119, or 81.6 percent.
But its easier to remember the misses than the makes, and how to explain that miss from 40 yards in the season opener at home against Atlanta, the 39-yarder just before the half at San Diego, a 33-yarder at Pittsburgh in a game the Chiefs would lose in overtime or a 27-yarder that hit the upright at Cleveland?
In a statistical oddity, the average distance of his six misses, 35.8 yards, was shorter than the average distance of his 28 made field goals that averaged 37.6 yards. Succop realizes he left a lot of points on the field last year.
Its part of being in the NFL, he said. When I first came to Kansas City, my special-teams coach, Steve Hoffman, said, As a place-kicker in the NFL, there are going to be a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Hopefully, you have a lot more ups, and when you have the downs, its all about how you respond to them. If something doesnt go the way you want it, then lets go back and get the next one, because thats the one that matters.
The Chiefs handed Succop a five-year, $14 million contract extension after the 2011 season after he made 24 of 30 field goals, including all three of his tries from beyond 50 yards, and they still believe in him because they did not bring in anyone to compete for the kicking job in training camp.
New special-teams coordinator Dave Toub, and Kevin ODea, his assistant who accompanied him from Chicago, are working to solve some of Succops inconsistencies.
Kevin is the kicking guy he studies it, he knows it. (Bears kicker) Robbie Gould calls him the most knowledgeable kicking coach in the league, Succop said. Working with Kevin and Dave, theyve been able to pull a lot of knowledge into what I do. Its been great to be all ears and learn from their experiences, and putting the stuff into practice is really going to help me.
A lot of its the mental approach to it. Were trying to be mentally strong, and there is some mechanical stuff were working on. Not anything drastic.
Toub and ODea put Succop through a drill where they line him up from a spot outside the hash marks and near the sidelines and have him try to hit the goal posts on a line from the side of the field.
If you trust your line, if you know you can hit the ball where you want it to go, thats all you need to worry about, Toub said. So you get in a game, you pick a spot, whatever the wind is, you say, Im going to hit it right here, and if I hit it on that line, I know its going to go through
If some kind of wind gust blows and blows it out, theres nothing you can do about that. As long as you can hit your line, were fine with that. Hes getting to that point where hes building that confidence.
Succop wont have to worry about any wind in Fridays preseason opener at New Orleans. His performance there last year, capped by a 43-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime and the 31-yard game winner, had additional meaning.
When I look back, that was special for a lot of reasons, Succop said. Not just the six-for-six and the one to tie and the one to win, but my wifes aunt had cancer at the time, and her family is from Louisiana. She brought her whole family, and we got to share that moment with her.
Shes since passed away, but it was neat how it all came together.