Players and coaches rarely talk about the business side of the game, but they all know it’s there.
That’s why, following the Chiefs’ season-ending win over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt made sure he let special-teams coach Dave Toub — who has interviewed for at least two NFL head coaching jobs in the past — know exactly how Colquitt feels about him.
“I told him after the game, ‘Don’t you be going anywhere on me,’ ” Colquitt said with a laugh. “He’s done a lot of great things in Kansas City. (Coach) Andy (Reid) really trusts Dave. You can see those guys … they have a great monster going on in Kansas City.”
Reservations about the Chiefs’ 2-4 slide down the stretch aside, Colquitt is right. Reid and general manager John Dorsey are 20-12 in their two years in Kansas City. That’s what NFL people call a “winning organization,” and losing teams love poaching members of their coaching and scouting staffs.
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The Chiefs would seem to have at two potential candidates for such a move. The first, obviously, is Toub, who interviewed for the Dolphins’ head-coaching position in 2011 and the Bears’ top job in 2013 and could again find himself in the mix for a job after the Falcons, Jets and Bears all fired their head coaches on Monday.
The second is director of pro personnel Chris Ballard, who turned down an opportunity to interview for the Tampa Bay job last season. The Jets and the Bears fired their general managers on Monday, and Ballard could figure into the mix there.
Chicago, in particular, would seem to be a good fit, as Ballard has a history with the Bears. He spent 12 seasons there, including one as their director of pro scouting in 2012. Ballard spent the previous 11 years as the Bears’ Southwest area scout and helped draft Pro Bowlers Matt Forte, Tommie Harris, Johnny Knox, Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said Monday he has not been approached by a team seeking to interview Ballard, but would not stand in his way if one does.
“I hear speculation, but you know what, I think anybody that knows me understands what my philosophy is, and that is I don’t think you hold back an opportunity,” Dorsey said. “You don’t do that, I think everybody knows that.
“But until something comes across, you know, I don’t know yet. I haven’t received anything yet. But do I think he can handle it? I do.”
Reid also had kind words for Ballard, who essentially functions as Dorsey’s right-hand man.
“Chris is a tremendous person, very sharp at what he does from the personnel side of things,” Reid said. “He and Dorse work hand-in-hand. I think he has a bright future in this business, quite potentially as a general manager.”
What would the Chiefs lose if he left?
“Probably those things I mentioned,” Reid said. “He’s a good person and he has the ability to help another team. We’ll cross all that when that takes place. But he’s surely worthy of getting an opportunity.”
Dorsey said the speculation surrounding Ballard’s potential departure is simply the price you pay for hiring good people.
“You try to surround yourself with as many good evaluators as you possibly can,” Dorsey said. “I think we’ve done that, and we will continue to do that. That’s part of the process. It’s our job to teach and learn as we move forward here, so in case something happens, God forbid, somebody can fill that role. That’s why you teach.”
In the same vein, Reid was asked whether he’d be surprised if the Bears took another look at Toub, who coached a dominant special-teams unit in Chicago from 2004 to 2012.
“They know Dave, so I’m sure those are pretty good dots to connect,” Reid said. “You know what I think of Dave. I think he’d be phenomenal. I’d put him in that John Harbaugh category. I think the special-teams coaches are probably as ready as anybody to be head coaches because they have to deal with (the media) and your whole staff. They’re also the ones that don’t seem to become head coaches very often for whatever reason. But I think Dave would do pretty good.”
In addition to Toub perennially fielding one of the league’s best special-teams units, players say he is a good communicator.
As the special-teams coach, Toub speaks to the entire team daily, and he has a reputation for demanding effort and holding players accountable.
Colquitt also praised Toub’s ability to tailor his message to the person.
“He understands we’re not typical football players — we’re a different animal,” Colquitt said of kickers and punters. “So you’re basically dealing with pitchers, a specialized person coming in that has a specific role. You can’t be too high, can’t be too down, so he keeps us on an even keel, and he’s always been good about putting us in good situations.”
Colquitt cited Toub’s handling of Cairo Santos, who rallied to convert 25 of 30 field goals after missing two of his first four kicks, as evidence of this.
“He’s protected our rookie kicker who really had a great year, bounced back from a tough start and Dave kind of managed him,” Colquitt said. “He never made it seem like he was in trouble. Anytime where I was having bad games, he’s like ‘Hey, we’ve always got next week.’ He was good about managing us, for sure.”
That’s why Colquitt maintains it will be bittersweet for him if Toub were to leave at some point, whether it be this year, next year or somewhere down the line. But that’s life in the NFL, and this is the time of year where — if you’ve got a strong organization — those types of things are bound to happen.
“It’s one of those things where if he gets some head-coaching interest, obviously he’s got to dive on that opportunity because that doesn’t come around every day,” Colquitt said. “But like Andy, I want those guys to stay here for a long time. I’ve been here for a long time, and this has been a great regime, a good family atmosphere.”
Reid hasn’t though about changes
While Chiefs coach Andy Reid made it clear that he sees special-teams coach Dave Toub as head-coach material, he was slightly less definitive Monday when asked if he intends to make any voluntary changes to his coaching staff this offseason.
“Not at this moment as we stand here,” Reid said. “I really haven’t even thought about that, to be honest with you. That’s know where I’m at right now. I didn’t think the season would be over right now.”
The Chiefs only made one significant move to their coaching staff last offseason, when they hired former Missouri star Brock Olivo to replace assistant special-teams coach Kevin O’Dea, who left to become Tampa Bay’s special-teams coordinator.