New kickoff use lowers both concussions and excitement

New kickoff use lowers both concussions and excitement
February 19, 2012, 11:29 am
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During the last off-season, the NFL mandated kickoffs would be moved up to the 35-yard line.

From my view, it was a disaster. The league eliminated one of the games most exciting plays and negated the impact of players like the Redskins Brandon Banks.

If the goal was to eliminate concussions, it was achieved last year.

Dr. Hunt Batjer, co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and on the Northwestern University staff, told the National Football Post that concussions on kickoffs were reduced by half last year.

According to the NFP, touchbacks tripled to 1,120 and the number of kickoff returns dropped from 2,033 to 1,375.

The elimination of the four-man wedge was instituted a few years ago in an effort to prevent the huge collisions on returns. Moving the kick up five yards further reduced the injury risk.

Like the wedge rule no bull-dozing allowed.

Hate, hate, hate the rule kicking off from the 35-yard line rule make it more costly.

The NFL in general and the competition committee in particular should make a touch-back more penal by having the offense start the 30-yard line; out of bounds kicks allow offenses to start at the 40-yard line.

Last year, the Redskins were 27th in kickoff returns (22.1-yard average) and second in kickoff coverage (20.8-yard average).

Kickoff returns were more important to a team like the Redskins because they were so challenged offensively.

A look at some of my statistics from the Redskins kickoffs last season:

Graham Gano had 29 touch-backs, three that were out of bounds and only 12 kickoffs that failed to reach the end zone. Over the last eight games, opponents brought out 10 kicks that were caught in the end zone.

Gano attempted failed an on-side kick against Carolina, San Francisco and the Jets.

Ganos out-of-bounds kicks came against Arizona, Seattle and New England.

Banks was aggressive he brought out 26 kicks that were caught in the end zone.

Opponents had only one kickoff out of bounds.

Opponents had 20 touch-backs on kickoffs, a majority of which went out of play or so far that Banks had no choice but to take a knee.

Against Philadelphia in Week 6, Banks took out all five kickoffs he caught in the end zone.

Overall, the NFL needs to fix something on kickoffs. The play has become a non-factor. Encourage a rule that forces teams to kick more pop-ups than kicks that go through the up-rights.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com