View Full Version : Kickoffs May Not Be As Big a Problem for Steelers in 2011

03-23-2011, 07:49 PM
Kickoffs May Not Be As Big a Problem for Steelers in 2011
Posted on March 22, 2011 by adam

If you’re tired of watching Steelers kickers fail to reach the end zone on kickoffs and then helplessly watch as they allow a return out to the 40-yard line, I have some good news for you. The NFL approved a rule change on Tuesday that will move the kickoff location back to the 35-yard line, which should, in theory, increase the number of touchbacks for teams across the league. Kickoffs used to take place from the 35 until the 1994 season when they were pushed back to the 30.

The Steelers kickers in 2010, Jeff Reed and Shaun Suisham, combined for just six touchbacks. In 2009 they had just three (and allowed four kickoff returns for touchdowns). By comparison, 23 kickers around the league in 2010 had more touchbacks than the Steelers, including 13 that recorded at least 15. Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff topped the league with 40 … or 50 percent of his kickoffs. That is stunningly amazing, and that number is sure to go up by giving him an extra five yards to play with.

Previously this offseason there was talk of moving touchbacks out to the 25-yard line and eliminating the two-man wedge on returns, but the NFL elected to keep touchbacks at the 20 and will continue to allow wedges. The league also increased instant replay by making all scoring plays eligible for review by the replay official in the booth and tabled the vote on changing the language on defenseless receivers (basically, what you saw last year is what you’re going to get this year).

The reaction I’m seeing from a lot of fans around the Internet is that they’re unhappy with the kickoff rule change, as it eliminates, at least in part, what can be an exciting play. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been a critic of the move, along with the Chicago Bears, a team that also happens to employ one of the best returners in NFL history, Devin Hester.

If nothing else, it’s going to make that time between touchdowns and the start of the ensuing offensive possession even more valuable in terms of hitting the bathroom or the kitchen: Touchdown, commercial break, kickoff touchback, commercial break, return to action.

03-23-2011, 08:40 PM
In defense of the rule change, Chairman Rich McKay said, "...player safety will always trump any other consideration.” To continue with that remark, here are a few other new rules that will be voted on prior to the season:

1. Receiver fair catch = for all passing plays when a receiver waves his hand up in the air in a back and forth motion, no opponent may interfere with the fair catcher, the ball, or his path to the ball. Penalty: 15 yards from spot of foul and fair catch is awarded.

2. Running into or roughing the quarterback = same rules apply as they do to kickers.

3. 5 count rule = Defense must count to 5 mississippi before crossing the line of scrimmage after the snap.

4. Hand off rule = When a player scores a TD, he must walk (not run) to the nearest official and gently hand him the ball. Thereafter, said player must walk back to his team's bench with no celebration. Penalty is automatic forfeiture of extra point.

5. Elimination of all 2-point conversions.

6. During field goal attempts, there will only be 3 players on the field; the snapper, the holder, and the kicker. All other players must remain on the sidelines until the kick and result is proclaimed.

7. After every first down, there will be a 2-minute time-out for commercial breaks.