Kickoff change much ado about nothing?
Josh Cribbs was all over the news on Tuesday after the NFL announced it was moving the kickoff spot from the 30-yard-line back to the 35-yard-line.
Cribbs is understandably upset about this as, against some teams, the extra five yards will mean additional touchbacks and fewer opportunities for Cribbs to return the ball, which he does better than anyone else in the NFL – he’s the career leader in kickoff returns for touchdowns with eight.
”I just disagree with the rule changes because it affects me tremendously and other guys tremendously,” Cribbs told The Beacon Journal. ”I count on [Chicago Bears return man] Devin Hester breaking records and everything, so I can chase him. They count on me breaking records, so they can chase me and vice versa. But without the opportunity, it takes us out of the game sometimes.”
But will it really make a difference?
Last year teams kicked away from Cribbs, usually by short kicking, to keep the ball out of his hands. There is little reason to think that strategy was going to change, no matter where they are kicking off from.
In addition, in 2010 the average kickoff went to the 6-yard-line; now with the extra five yards the ball will go to the 1-yard-line, which means returners will still have an opportunity to make a play.
When the NFL last kicked off from the 35-yard-line, in 1993, there were 57 returns of more than 40 yards and four returns for touchdowns.
In 2010, there were 113 returns of more than 40 yards and 23 kicks returned for touchdowns.
But we have to remember that in 1993 teams were not keeping players like Cribbs, Hester and Leon Washington on the roster to specifically return kicks, and that impacts the return numbers as much as the 5-yard difference.
Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff is cited as reason No. 1 why the rule change is bad. Cundiff had an NFL-record 40 touchbacks last season; it’s not like that number was going to go down anyway. Plus, he’s the exception rather than the rule here.
Teams will adjust to this rule just like they do with everything else.
“It’s going to take a lot of strategy for the coaches to come up with a plan for how to take advantage of the opportunities you do have,” Washington said on NFL.com. “I think, as a returner, you have to really study the game, study the kickers and try to approach the game from that angle. … Special-teams coaches have to really, really prepare themselves and really game-plan around how to take advantage of when you do have opportunities.”
While we fully expect the Browns to go defense with their first pick in next month’s NFL Draft, we were still a little bit surprised to hear that Browns GM Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur didn’t attend the pro day workout of Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.
By NFL rule, only an NFL-draft eligible quarterback from the player’s school can throw passes during the receiver’s pro day. Since the Bulldogs don’t have anyone fitting that criteria, they are allowed to bring someone in as long as they played at the college level withing the state or live within a 40-mile radius of the school.
But the only quarterback Georgia could find is Justin Roper, who played in college at Montana but now lives 46 miles away from the Georgia campus.
Got all that so far?
So the rules required the university to send all NFL officials indoors for Green’s individual drill workout. But the representatives from the NFL teams were allowed to watch the workouts on a monitor.
But not in person.
We don’t know, either.
From Who Ate All the Pies comes word that the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering department at Qatar University is developing an ‘artificial cloud’ that could be used to temper the desert country’s blistering heat during the 2022 World Cup.
According to the report, the cloud is positioned by remote control, made of 100 percent light carbonic materials, filled with helium, fuelled by four solar-powered engines and it’s primary function will be to hover above the various stadiums in order to ‘filter both direct and indirect UV rays, as well as controlling temperatures at pitch level’ – all at a cost of around $500,000.
I think the Indians need to get working one of these for Progressive Field.