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Kickoffs Will Change, A Little

ESPN, among others, has reported today that the vote is in on some of the proposed rule changes concerning kickoffs in 2011. The results are as follows: Kickoffs will be kicked from the 35 yard line instead of the 30 yard line. That’s about it. Wait, what? You heard me right. That’s the only significant change, and growing concern over the integrity of the game may have saved the kickoff as we know it.

If there was ever a team to benefit from moving the kickoff position forward five yards, it’s the Jaguars. Montell Owens and Kassim Osgood are two of the premier special teams aces in the NFL, and they both play for the Jaguars (actually they currently don’t play for anyone, but that’s just a CAB technicality, and I’ll avoid that topic for right now). Their ability to get downfield should give the Jaguars a clear edge in field position when kicking off.

The other thing going for the Jaguars is that they have a competent kicker. There’s no doubt that Josh Scobee will work on dropping the ball inside the five yard line on kickoffs, forcing a return. In face, the new rule allows kickers to employ “mortar kicks.” That’s where a kicker puts more loft on a kickoff than usual, giving the coverage team longer to get down field. That, along with the five yard head start the kick coverage team will now enjoy, should help teams with strong special teams units be even more effective than they have been in the past.

These rule changes have been much more moderate than I originally thought. I actually like moving the kickoff forward five yards, because; I believe it benefits the defense. Strong special teams units should be able to capitalize on the changes, and in my mind, there’s no way the changes hurt the Jaguars going forward.


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