Harrison Butker defends Tommy Townsend amid bearer controversy

In Sunday’s 30-24 overtime victory against the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs’ Harrison Butker missed an extra point and a last-minute 51-yard field goal attempt. In a hit-limited campaign, Butker has now missed five field goals and three extra point attempts over ten games.

Former Chiefs Chief Dustin Colquitt blamed his successor for Butker’s struggle—first on Twitter and then on local sports radio. Colkett — who spent 15 seasons as a punter and tackle for Kansas City — insists that third-year Tommy Townsend’s possession is to blame for the placement factor’s inconsistency.

In the locker room before Tuesday’s practice, Butker tried to leave his bearer case to rest. He credited Townsend — as well as Chiefs coach Andy Reed, special teams coordinator Dave Topp, and long snapper James Winchester — for the collaborative work in the midst of midseason scores.

“Dustin – he’s a big Chiefs fan,” he said of his former bandmate. “He’s obviously given so much to the whole community here – and I respect every bit of him. I’m just trying to be the best scorer I can be. All the guys here – James, Tommy, Coach Top, Coach Reed – are all pushing us to be the best. And we’re listening.” To all of these guys we try to improve every day.”

Denny Medley, USA Today Sports

Butker reiterated that he is happy with the job his current holder is doing.

He declared “James and Tommy are doing a great job, and I’ve got to finish it and command the ball through the uprights. I’ve been pleased with all the effort and all the work these guys put in. At the end of the day? If the ball’s on the floor, it has to go.”

In his remarks, Reid simply dismissed his former player’s notion that an issue with bookings would not be addressed.

“We’re looking at everything,” he said of the situation. “I’m not going to go into it, but there’s nothing going through us. We have to get through this. They all have a responsibility between the three of them. We’ll work it out.”

Criticisms from a former player don’t carry too much weight for a head coach.

“[Colquitt has] Great personality,” Reed noted. “He likes to put his opinion out there. Don’t worry about all of that. We do our job. We study all of those things. Everyone has an opinion. I don’t worry at all.”

In short, Colkett’s thesis is that Townsend’s hurdles consistently leave football laces in the wrong position. Butker downplayed the issue entirely.

“One thing I’ve been working on for the last couple of years,” he said, “is to just look right under the ball, so I don’t notice the spinning laces — if there are any — because I can’t control that. And I like to think that no matter where the laces are, I should still be able to hit a straight ball.

“That’s one thing Tommy and I have been working on all our time together: just some drills where Tommy puts balls down and spins them around. So I have to get better at just kicking the ball starting from the ground under the ball so I don’t notice a ball going around.

“I think a lot of times the balls might give too much credit to the balls where the ligaments are off — or the lean or whatever that may be. I just take the approach of, ‘I can do better. I can determine that.’ I should be able to knock any ball through the posts.”

NFL: October 16 Bills in Chiefs

Photo by Nick Tree. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

However, the downside to dismissing Colquitt’s claims is that if reservations aren’t the problem, then what is? Citing a long run, Butker didn’t blame the constant pain from his injury in the first week.

“I have a lot of distance on field goals,” he said. “I just have to keep working to make sure they pass.”

Both Butker and Reid warned of sweeping changes to fix the problem in December.

“You have to trust the process,” Butker explained. “You can’t just throw everything out the window and try something new.

“The main reason the ball doesn’t go through—or why it moves down the middle—is just a small adjustment; a small slight change. That’s the hard part about kicking. You have to find what that small change is—and make it and make it happen.”

Reed expects the player to get over his recent struggles.

He said, “I get into a bit of a funk, and that ball feels small. All of a sudden, you work through it and it seems big again. And you start hitting it better. That’s where we are. We’re working through it.” [I] You still have a lot of confidence in the process. We just have to work through it.”

Butker knows how to handle accuracy issues because he’s done it before. He cited a host of additional missing points as evidence that the situation could improve.

“I know in 2020, I was missing out on all those extra points,” he recalls. “One of the things that’s helped me is not to over-analyze everything, because you can get yourself to where you’re just trying to change the method too much — and you’re hurting yourself.

“You have to go back to the drawing board—always—if something happens. And you have to come back better. That’s what I do. I work butt.”

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