First-year Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has a radical idea for making the game safer, one commissioner Roger Goodell said he was open to during a recent interview with Time: doing away with kickoffs altogether. Instead, after a team scores a touchdown, it would get the ball at its own 30-yard line and face the equivalent of a fourth-and-15. Come up short and it would punt.
Goodell said he'd consider the change not for PR reasons but because it's "the right thing to do."
On Friday, Schiano, whose anti-establishment stance on the victory formation was condemned as dangerous by critics, explained his thinking on redesigning the kickoff procedure:
"I understand traditionalists don't agree, but there used to not be the forward pass, too, and the game would be pretty boring without it, so," Schiano told reporters, via NFL.com. (This is true; see Jets, New York.) "I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying you've got to be able to think outside and whatever is best for the players, because at the end of the day these guys are the ones that are putting it on the line."
Schiano said he started researching ways to improve player safety after one of his players at Rutgers, Eric LeGrand, suffered a severe spinal injury during a kickoff in 2010.
"One of the things that when I was researching, I think it was like, in the old kickoff rules 17 percent of the catastrophic injuries happened on kickoffs, yet it's only about 6 percent of the plays in the game," Schiano said. "Well, that is disproportionate. Things like that are the reasons that led me there, but obviously it's a personal thing with me because of Eric LeGrand. …
"This is just something that I dreamed up and as I said to him I'm not sure all the details are there," Schiano continued. " ... But I think you could have a lot of exciting stuff. You know, you open the game with a blocked punt or you open the game, who knows what could happen, fake punt?"
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One problem (depending on your perspective, anyway): What happens if the team that scores keeps converting its subsequent fourth-and-15 tries? It sounds preposterous but remember the Thanksgiving night Patriots-Jets clown show? The final score might've been 149-14 under Schiano's rules.
Still, Schiano is onto something, although what form it might eventually take is another matter. Either way, Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who is also a member of the competition committee, said recently (via PFT) that "I'm sure it will be something that will be addressed once the committee gets together in February."
Fisher added: "But that's just … there's been a lot of different things that have come up. Obviously, if you look at what we've done with the kickoff when we moved it up from the 30 to the 35 we haven't had -- well, the injury numbers have gone down significantly since the move two years ago. There's been some talk, I think [Giants co-owner John] Mara, may have mentioned over a period of time, maybe there will be some consideration that we'll remove it from the game completely, but those things will be discussed during the offseason."
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