Bears Showing Anger over New KO Rules

It might be a first in the annals of the NFL.  A team actually following their heart and disgust in a new rule implemented by the league and showing it during the first pre season game.   Who said the Bears had no heart?

The NFL has instituted new kickoff rules for the safety of its players.  In simple summation, the kickoffs are now done from the 35 yard line instead of the 30.  Also every player on the kickoff team must be touching the 35 at the time of the kick.  This is to eliminate a full speed head start and hopefully to eliminate injuries.

Six teams voted against the implementation, one of them the Chicago Bears.  Saturday night Chicago showed their displeasure.  The Bears lined up for their first two kickoffs at their 30.  Their opponent, the Buffalo Bills didn’t notice it.  The fans never noticed it and evidently the officials never noticed anything was wrong because no penalties were called.

In fact, it wasn’t until halftime anyone drew the problem to the attention of the officials.  It took a phone call from Vice President of Officiating Carl Johnson to stop the Bears from doing it again.  But was Chicago doing it on purpose or were they just mistaken?

The Bears have had great return teams for years, most of it thanks to their kicker Robbie Gould.   Coach Lovie Smith explained the situation as being unfair to his team.  Smith stated Gould can place the ball at the 35 yard line and kick it out of the end zone every time, thus the coaches cannot get a true feel for how their special teams will adjust.

The rule may be in an effort to diminish injuries.  However it also hurts teams that have built themselves into kickoff return giants.  The Bears have done that.  Last year, the Bears ranked first in average starting drive position at their own 33-yard line.   So at first look this rule seems to hurt Chicago.

In looking at the numbers, the Bears will be improved with the new rule when they kickoff.   Chicago ranked 24th in average drive start allowed, allowing opponents to start at about their own 30-yard line.  That should be better, especially if Gould can drive the ball into the end zone as Smith thinks he can.

Many are upset at this rule, not only teams but individual returners such as Devin Hester of the Bears and Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns.  They say the rule is built to take fun and excitement out of the game.

After the first weekend of pre season games, they are correct.  The numbers show and there have already been diminishing returns.  In the first preseason weekend 43 of 127 kickoffs, or 33.8 percent, were touchbacks. Throughout the 2010 season, the touchback rate was 16.4 percent.  Is this what the league wanted?

Now they may need to re-examine this sooner than later.  Fans love the kickoff return and soon will long for it if these numbers become more common place.


  1. http://A.%20J.%20Luna says

    I saw one game this weekend. Every kick went into the end zone. Those returned resulted in a tackle inside the 20. I question why any team would run a kick out of the end zone with little possibility of a positive result. I would only use this return game at the end of the half or game not having any other choice. If the league keeps this rule they should consider starting the next drive on the 20 with no kickoff except the last two minutes of the half or game.

  2. http://David%20Campbell says

    Last year, the NFL instituted a new rule regarding maintaining possession of the football, which clearly caused a perfectly good touchdown to be revoked from the Detroit Lions and Calvin Johnson. This resulted in a loss by the Lions to the Bears.

    The latest assault on the purity of the game by the NFL is the new rule designed to limit concussion injuries takes the kick off return, the most exciting and often most memorable event in the beloved sport of Football, and steals it away from the coaches, the players and the fans.

    The NFL is flat out wrong, if not just plain stupid. What will it be next, removing the punt return?
    Football Players can generate enough speed to cause head injuries from full contact in a matter of feet or yards. The mechanics of generating hits powerful enough to dislodge a helmet, cause a concussion or break a bone can often occur from the explosive force of a man rising up from a three point stance.

    Those of us who play or have played football understand this. The moment before you unleash that force, you can decide the level of violence you want to unleash on another man. But there are times at the point of impact when it is not a matter of your decision as much as it is where the physical impact occurs between the two players, which neither player involved in the impact can completely control. For example: If a ball is caught two inches higher, a hit can appear much more violent to a spectator than if it were caught closer to the chest.

    I thank Lovie Smith and the Bears for standing up to the new kick off rule, which is akin to the US Government passing a NO CHRISTMAS TREE law and expecting people to follow it on Christmas day.

    The NFL can count on this: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO CONTINUE TO RUIN THE GAME OF FOOTBALL, THE FANS, COACHES AND PLAYERS WILL NOT ALLOW IT. So get rid of your number crunchers who are ruining the game, and take in the big picture of the game.

    Having been a player and fan of the game all my life, with the kind of passion and enthusiasm that only we who have played can understand, I personally have acquired a level of disrespect and remorse over the NFL in the past few years, with the strict tackling calls, the “process of the catch” calls and now the Mother of all Stupid rules, NO KICK OFF RETURNS.

    It simply has not been thought through, and if the goal is to reduce the number of concussions from running the length of the field, consider it does not take the length of the field to generate the speed or the mechanics involved with a concussion.

    David Campbell

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