The NFL lockout is long over, so that means the nation needs a new controversy to discuss. Well, for now at least, that issue is the new kickoff rule. For anyone who doesn’t know, kickoffs have been moved up to the 35-yard line in hopes of “reducing injuries” on kickoff plays. First of all, let me just say that I have been against this rule from the beginning. With the leg strength of kickers now days, it’s pretty obvious that a vast majority of kicks are going to end up in touchbacks. Not only does this greatly affect field position, but it takes away a ton of the excitement from NFL games. How can anyone be excited about every kickoff being downed and every possession starting at the 20? This whole thing is ridiculous, but we are going to have to deal with it.
Now, for how this will impact the Rams. GM Billy Devaney was on PFT Live on Wednesday, and he said the new rule won’t affect how the team decides who makes the roster. Devaney said that every kick won’t be out of the end zone and that teams will still need a player capable of handling kicks. Now, as far as I can tell from going back in the record book, the Rams haven’t returned a kick for a touchdown since Chris Johnson (no, not THAT Chris Johnson) did it in 2005 and Tony Horne in 2000 before that. Now I know that touchdowns aren’t the only way a returner can impact the game, but it’s obvious that this rule won’t affect the Rams as much as some other teams. We obviously need someone who is capable of returning kicks when possible, but I don’t think a player should make the team based solely on his kick return ability. For instance, if Mardy Gilyard isn’t one of the top 6 receivers, the fact that he can return kicks shouldn’t factor into that decision. I don’t think that’s going to matter when it comes time to make cuts, but the rule is still bogus.