The NFL lockout continues and there is a court hearing on April 6, but there are things actually happening in the NFL. The league's competition committee has made some proposals to attempt to improve the game of football and make it more safe.
Among the changes, the following are proposed:
- Moving the kickoff back to the 35-yard line
- Placing the ball at the 25 after a touchback, instead of the 20.
- Eliminating coaches' challenges for scoring plays. Instead, all scoring plays would be automatically reviewable by the replay assistant, much like in college ball.
- Giving more detailed description of what is a "defenseless" player and increasing punishment for players who make illegal hits.
As for the hits, I am all for it. Some will say that the league is becoming soft, but in the end these are men who don't need permanent injuries.
The proposed changes to kickoffs are a bit worrisome for me. I have rarely seen serious injuries as a result from a kickoff and they are perhaps the most exciting part of the game. How effective will LaRod Stephens-Howling
be when he will get the ball less? Will he be able to make the necessary impact on the running game to justify keeping him on the squad when he will be less valuable as a returner?
While I think he will be able to contribute otherwise, to make these changes to special teams seems unnecessary. To move kickoffs to the 35 would lead to a larger amount of touchbacks. If that is the result in the end, why keep kickoffs at all?
Scoring challenges makes more sense. To not be able to challenge a bad scoring call because a coach is out of challenges or because he has no timeouts is dumb. When it comes to points on the board or not, you have to get the call right. The NCAA does it already for all plays.
What do you think? Which, if any, of the changes would you like to see?