There have been lots of complaints about the new kick-off rule. Fans, coaches and players have expressed their hatred for a rule that takes the ball out of the hands of some of the more dangerous return men in the National Football League. I have a different look at a rule that I don’t like, but is consistent with what the league has been doing for the past half decade.
Offense sells in the NFL. Yes, kick-returns that go all the way are still worth six-points, but it isn’t offense. The NFL has been creating an environment that has made it all about offenses scoring in the league. It seems as if Roger Goodell has done all that he could possibly do to put the ball back in the hands of the quarterback. With some of the strong-legged kickers in the league, there will be a lot of drives starting at the 20-yard line, with teams relying on their offense to get the job done.
The Chicago Bears are one of the teams that hate this new rule the most and if you know of the various special teams weapons they have, you can understand why.
The question is, does the league want a team in that market to rely so heavily on a player like Devin Hester and Danieal Manning? No, Jay Cutler should be the man and he should have real wide receivers to throw to, not athletes who were converted to that position because the team didn’t take the need seriously. Now, by neutralizing those weapons, that organization will have to go out and get Cutler some toys.
You may strongly disagree, but face it, the NFL covets high octane, explosive offenses. That’s the model that they chose to build their product around. Everything they’ve done recently has been pointed in that direction.
Oh sure, they’ve talked “safety,” but even the rules that have been geared to make players safer have been very offensive friendly. In 2009, teams failed to score more than seven-points 61 times. Out of those 61 times, 11 of those were shut-outs. That number changed dramatically in 2010. Teams failed to score more than seven points only 41 times and only five of those were shut-outs. That’s a trend that Goodell and company wants.
While taking away special team threats, the league is still boosting offense. Teams like the Bears will have to stop relying so heavily on the term “field position.” This is something that the 90’s brought into existence. Out with the old, in with the new. The league is evolving and teams with good quarterbacks and better than solid offenses will survive.
While some teams may struggle immediately, they’ll know how to build their rosters moving forward with the rule changes. For those of you who complain about the league doing nothing to help defenses, this is a rule that does help that side of the ball as well. Yes, you’ll have to have offenses that have to ability to score on a long field, but defenses now get more opportunities to defend that same long field. Upon further review, maybe it’s a win/win.
Rob Long – 105.7 The Fan On-air Host & Staff Writer
Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobLongSports