Bears' Toub: New kickoff rules have 'devalued
Bears' Toub: New kickoff rules have 'devalued' Hester
By Brad Biggs Tribune reporter
Dave Toub was vacationing with family in Belize last week and spent three nights in a grass hut. If the animals in the wild didn’t keep him awake, the NFL’s new kickoff rules did.
The Chicago Bears special teams coordinator is trying to get a handle on how the new rules adopted last month at the NFL owners meeting will impact his unit, which has been one of the league’s highest-ranked since he joined the team in 2004. The Bears were tied for first in the NFL in average starting field position in 2010.
To review, kickoffs have been moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, leading to speculation that touchbacks will skyrocket from 16.38 percent in 2010. There already were 416 touchbacks last season, double the number from 2004. The kickoff team is no longer permitted to get a sprinting start, and all players but the kicker must line up within five yards of the kickoff yard line.
How much change does Toub expect on Sundays in the fall? He says half the kickoffs in the NFL could be touchbacks.
"We’ve invested in a lot of money in Devin (Hester) and our return game and players and they’ve basically devalued that for us," Toub said. "I don’t think there is any question. You’re hurting the teams that are good in the return game and you are rewarding teams that aren’t very good in kickoff coverage. With just the rule change, they got better on kickoff coverage. To me, it’s not real fair. That’s the way it is. We’ll play it out."
Toub and his assistant Kevin O’Dea have kicked around some possibilities but won't know how they will work until they start tinkering with players and formations on the field, which is impossible during the lockout.
"Now we have to adjust to what we think we’re going to get," Toub said. "You kind of rack your brain a little bit. How is it going to change your formation a little bit? How are you going to move back a little bit? Where are you going to set your wedge? What are your rules going to be as far as how deep will you come out with it? All of those different things you have to think about.
"What will the kickers’ mentality be? I think they’re going to try to drive the ball a little bit more. The danger of trying to drive the ball when you’re kicking from the 30 is that if you miss-hit it, you get a line-drive shot at the goal line. That’s very returnable. Now, with the extra five yards, you have a line-drive shot that will go five yards deep (into the end zone).
"So kickers will take more of a chance for kicking touchbacks. That is why I think there are going to be a lot more touchbacks than what people believe. It was almost 17 percent last year. I think it is going to be almost 50 percent touchbacks. I really believe it. For us, in the winter time, we’ll still get our returns, we’ll still get the ball when it gets cold. We’ll catch it right around the goal line or inside the 10.”
Toub’s rule for returners bringing the ball out of the end zone isn’t based on how deep the ball is kicked, but how long it is in the air. That still will apply, but changes will need to be made there too because the coverage team will be five yards closer. How much difference will it make?
"It might offset itself a little bit because they can’t get the running start anymore," Toub said. "That’s like a five-yard difference right there, going full speed when the ball is kicked, so that might offset itself.
"I also think there are going to be more inside-the-20 tackles because teams are going to bring it out of the end zone. Good teams are going to take a chance to come out with it, like us. There is risk/reward with our guys back there."
The Competition Committee pushed through the changes, saying that injuries were the primary impetus, something the Bears haven’t seen much of on kickoffs for the past decade.
"They must have had some numbers (for injuries)," Toub said. "They must have had something. They had to go to the owners and the coaches with something to show there were injuries and concussions. I figured injuries as a whole, maybe there are more pulled hamstrings on kickoffs. There must have been something. I can only assume that they had it broken down and it was mainly concussions they were talking about, hopefully."
A year ago, three-man wedges were eliminated. Talk was the two-man wedge would be eliminated for 2011, but that change was not implemented. While some special teams coaches were forced to adjust in a big way after the three-man wedge was taken out, it didn’t impact the Bears much because they employ more man blocking than zone principles.
While the focus has been mostly on Hester, he returned only 12 kickoffs last season. Of course, he had a 79-yarder and averaged 35.6 yards. Danieal Manning did the bulk of the work for the Bears on kickoffs, getting 33 returns.
How many will the team get with the new rules? It’s impossible to say, but the number will go down. The changes also will devalue top cover men that the Bears have had like Brendon Ayanbadejo, Tim Shaw and Corey Graham. There will be less plays for guys like that to make with Robbie Gould expected to increase his touchbacks from his career-high of 16 last season.
"We’ll see what happens," Toub said
Just what I've said all along. This whole thing penalizes team who've invested in their return games like the Bears have. I'll never be convinced that injury reduction was the sole reason for the change. It comes down to some pressure and influence from coaches and owners who don't like to see their team lose to a big play on ST's as well. It's a completely bullshit rule change and the NFL has done a really poor job of selling it to any but their own.
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If they are so damn worried about injuries than just eliminate kickoffs altogether and spot the ball. All this does is dilute the game.
Arguing on the internet is like winning the special olympics, even if you win your still messed up.
Restore the roar!
They might just as well since that's what will probably happen on 35%-40% of the kickoffs anyhow. The 5 yard limit on the run ups may help but only on those kicks that can actually be returned. You're gonna see guys with a huge leg like the Packers Mason Crosby kicking them through the end zone now.
Originally Posted by short faced bear
yep and as said from the beginning it STINKS, they ddi this and NEVER showed the injury stats showing more injuries occuring, which as toub hinted at , may not be true. the NFL usually will back it up with stats, but haven't yet, which doesn't pass the "smell" test to me and penalizes teams like bears and jets with very good return teams
Originally Posted by soulman
I like the rule because now if forces Jerry Angleo to focus on other part of the team like the offense instead of investing a ton of picks in our special teams.
Yes, it penalizes teams like the Bears right now. But in a few years that disadvantage (or advantage to teams with bad return games) will be gone. And everything will be equal again.
Originally Posted by soulman
please list the 'tons of draft picks" that were just for special teams the last 4 years( 2007 and on),, thanks!..bcause I sure do not remember a 'ton of picks"
Originally Posted by 4th and 26
Last edited by dabears54; 04-06-2011 at 07:04 AM.
List all of the starters from those draft picks.
Originally Posted by dabears54
right after you list all of these investing "tons of draft picks just for special teams"
Originally Posted by 4th and 26
Why avoid what is asked?.. never mind know why..