I thought I'd make a short poast about the new kickoff rule. First of all I hate it and it stanks mainly due to the principle on which it is based. And that is ''protecting the players.'' This facade has been eating away at me, as it is just another example of the pansyfication of America. Back in the old days you could knock teeth out, beat dudes up, and throw late hits. You could also say the word fag, spank your children, watch boxing, and use lead based paint. Seatbelts and helmets were suggestions and you could tell a woman to go put her curlers in without an HR complaint. Sadly these days are behind us. Fortunately we have a small rear-view mirror :)
But I digress...
This poast aims to examine the impact of this new rule on our Pittsburgh Steelers. Dive on in!
In case nobody knows what I'm talking about, the new rule moved Kickoffs from the 30 to the 35. Those five yards are the difference between a returner getting the ball at maybe the one or just barely into the EZ, and getting it deep in the EZ. That difference equates to more touchbacks.
The stats show that in the 2010 season, about 80% of kicks were returned. The other week in the preseason: 68%. And I'm willing to bet that was a larger than normal number due to coaches wanting to practice kick returns in many cases.
Thanks to footballoutsiders, people with much more time than I have, we can see that Pittsburgh ranked 7th in Average starting field position last year. We typically started on the 31 yard line on average. That's a very solid place to start.
Our coverage unit however more or less negated that advantage. We allowed teams to start around the 29-30 on average.
Now these stats reflect starting field position for ANY drive, Meaning that INTs and Fumbles are included. So what can we discern? Well I'll be captain obvious here and say that our team had a very good turnover differential of +17. We took it away 35 times (21 picks and 14 fumble recoveries). That was good for 2nd in the league in 2010.
What this tells me is that our high quantity of turnovers is more responsible for our solid starting field position, much moreso than the return game.
On the flip side, we hardly gave the ball away last year and so we can apply the same logic. Opponents having nearly the same starting position as us reveals that THEIR return games are responsible for this, not takeaways.
What's the point then? Well, with the new kickoff rule we're likely to be able to get more touchbacks. Touchbacks will help us avoid some of the ST disasters we've seen in the past. And it will keep teams backed up more. Those 10 yards from the 30 to the 20 will give Lebeau 3 more downs to force a mistake. In addition, we have more potential to force even WORSE field position with a sack at the 20. I expect teams to be a bit more cautious when they play us if they start from the 20.
We however, do not have an amazing return game, we probably will have a slightly lower starting field position but not by much this year. I'm willing to bet our opponents' will drop more than ours.
So in conclusion, while it sucks to see the NFL losing its balls and big hits and exciting returns, we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it will actually be good for us in the long run. Sure maybe there's one TD Brown might not get to return, but that beats Joshua Cribbs surprising us with a pair of TDs or even a handful of 30-40 yard returns.
Of course this is all assuming that Suisham or whoever can kick the ball into the EZ consistantly. We saw that Suisham suddenly had a monster leg in the playoffs for KOs, so perhaps that'll continue.
What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughtages, do you like the rule at all?