Toub Defends Kick Off Decision, Lauds Kahlil Bell's Play
Bears' Toub defends decision to kick off from 30-yard line
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/...0-15114136.jpg Special teams coach Dave Toub says the Bears had permission to kick off from the 30-yard line. (Phil Velasquez/Tribune Photo)
By Brad Biggs Tribune reporter 1:41 p.m. CDT, August 15, 2011
BOURBONNAIS -- The Chicago Bears had approval in advance from the NFL office during the offseason to kick off from the 30-yard line in preseason before they discovered Saturday night that the league didn’t want them deviating from the new rule.
In a somewhat controversial move, the competition committee pushed through a new rule for this season that moves kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line in an effort to reduce the number of injuries that occur on those plays.
Robbie Gould used the 30-yard line as his starting point for the first two kickoffs Saturday at Soldier Field in the 10-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills. After that, the NFL office communicated with officials at the stadium and informed the team that such a move was a no-no.
Before the game, the referee and officiating crew told the Bears it was OK, and the team also informed Bills coach Chan Gailey, who had no issue with it.
“We talked to the NFL beforehand during the offseason and they said it was going to be OK. So that’s why we did it,” Toub explained Monday at training camp.
“I guess it came down from New York. They got word that we can’t kick from the 30 and then we just went back to the 35 after that. We thought we could do it. We thought we were clear with it. We told the officials ahead of time that is what we were going to do. They were fine with it. That’s why we kicked from the 30. We were just trying to evaluate our kickoff team. You don’t get any evaluation when you kick touchbacks. That’s what preseason is for -- it’s about evaluation and finding who can cover kicks. That’s all we were trying to do.”
The new rule is vague in that it doesn’t specify the ball has to be kicked off from the 35. A five-yard penalty, of course, would move a club back to the 30.
Other than the unwanted attention over the rule, Toub was pleased with the way his unit performed. Johnny Knox had a 70-yard kickoff return and coverage units were solid. He was also pleased with the effort of Kahlil Bell, who made a mark at running back as well.
“We consider him a four-phase starter,” Toub said. “The third running back has to be that.”
That right there could be why Bell gets a leg up on Chester Taylor for a roster spot.