By. Joe McDevitt
In the NFL, the new kickoff rule makes each team kickoff from the 35 yard line. The old rule used to let teams kickoff from the 30 yard line. Doesn't sound like a big difference does it? Well, that 5 yard difference has given kickers the ability to completely eliminate any chance of returning a kickoff. Special Teams used to be 1/3 of the game, and now its looking like it will be slowly taken out of the game. I understand the injury side of the argument, but this is a violent game in every aspect...not just special teams.
How does this effect the Eagles? Well, I see it as both a positive and a negative. Let's start with how this can be postive for the Eagles. Teams will have to essentially earn all their points against our "possibly' stiffling defense. Last year, I saw too many plays where kickoff returners were able to bring the ball up to mid-field after shaking through Bobby April's kickoff coverage. If Alex Henery is able to boot the ball for a touchback like most kickers are doing now, then this should not be a problem anymore. Let teams start from the 20, and try and drive on our defense.
How is this a negative for the Eagles? Well, I hope someone remembered a play last year in the new Meadowlands Stadium. The Eagles have an explosive weapon named DeSean Jackson who seems to make excitement happen every time he touches the ball. Imagine this scenario, The Eagles are down 24-21 after the Cowboys score with 10 seconds remaining in the game. The kicker now boots the ball for a touchback and the Eagles start at their own 20 yard line. The Cowboys then play a prevent defense and time runs out. BORING! I'd rather see Jackson return the ball of the kickoff, and get a chance to take it to the house or at least past the 20 yard line.
For anyone thinking the rule may get changed before the season starts, Mike Florio reported that this kickoff rule will not get changed at all this season. The league will evaluate at the end of the year.