Home > NCAA Football, NFL > Rutgers Coach Proposes Alternative to Kickoff

Rutgers Coach Proposes Alternative to Kickoff


Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano

After watching Junior Defensive End Eric Legrand lay helplessly on the field after a head collision last October, Head Coach Greg Schiano begin thinking of a way to make the game of football safer that help prevent an injury from happening in the future for all levels. It is no secret that Kickoffs are one, if not, the most dangerous part of the game of football. For this reason the NFL recently moved the Kickoff to the 35 yard line to lessen the chance of injury. Coach Schiano proposed a Kickoff Alternative that would be safer for all players while not drastically changing the game.

Schiano Plan:

“Replace all kickoffs with a punting situation, including after the opening coin toss and to start the second half. So, as an example, when Team A scores a touchdown, it immediately gets the ball back on a fourth and 15 from its own 30-yard line. It can punt it back to Team B — the most likely outcome and a safer play since the bigger collisions usually happen on kickoffs. Or it can line up and go for the first down, essentially replacing an onside kick with an offensive play that would require more skill than luck.”

I personally think this has potential to considered at the Collegiate and Professional level. It keeps returns in the game and also provides an opportunity for a team to retain possession. Punting from the 30 would result in a similar outcome as an average kickoff. In the 2010 season the smallest average for a starting punter in the National Football League was 40.1 yards. With the average punt return near ten yards players would fall short of the 40 yard line. This is a double edge issue as teams with elite punt returners such as the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, or San Francisco 49ers, will have a strong advantage and could potentially start a majority of their drives on their opponents side of the field. Another issue would be the 4th and 15 option instead of punting. While one would think being on their own 30 would be enough of a risk to influence coaches to punt, many teams have players who average 15 yards. In 2010 21 WR/TE averaged 15.0 yards  per catch or more, with several more averaging 14.0 yards per catch or more. Not saying that coaches would choose to go for it after every score, but it would be well in their grasp. I believe making the 4th and 15 a 4th and 20 would be a slighty more difficult and would reflect the difficulty of an onside kick  more accurately.

Schiano was also questioned whether the receiving team would be allowed to attempt a block of the initial punt. When asked Schiano said “I don’t think that’s what you’re looking to do with this. Maybe that’s not an option – maybe you can’t block the punt because that’s not what you’re looking to accomplish here. Maybe it’s one of those deals like in an All-Star Game where you can’t block the punt, that it would have to be all return game.” One scenario I thought about when I read the details of this rule is the possibility of a team dominating the time of possession. Think of all the shoot out games where teams trade punches for the entire game. The entire game is filled with big plays and at the end it is the team who has the ball last that wins. In a game where there is little defense a team could potentially score, be successful on a 4th and 15, and repeat. The opposing team could have a hand full of possessions the entire game. Yes it is a long shot, but in certain games where it is all offense for both teams it could happen.

I personally love Kickoffs. I don’t believe the hype before a Kickoff would be the same if it was a Punt. That being said you cannot put a price on how safe the game could be and with the recent emphasis on players safety in the NFL I believe this idea is at the very least worth considering.

What do you think?

Advertisements
  1. August 6, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    The problem with this system is that it get rids of onside kicks.

    • August 6, 2011 at 10:33 PM

      Forgot to post it all: the 4th and 15 system gets rid of surprise onside kicks, which have a higher success rate than formal onside kicks. It takes away an edge.

      • August 7, 2011 at 8:10 PM

        It does get rid of the Surprise Onside kicks which is a down side, but I would argue that Surprise Onside are not popular enough to strongly consider.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: