AFC South: Gayle Sayers

On eliminating kickoffs

April, 16, 2012
I didn’t protest the move of the kickoff from the 35 to the 30 and the resulting touchbacks.

I don’t find kick returns to be thrilling. I actually see them as a good time to jot off a tweet or make a bathroom run.

Still, I cannot envision the NFL without kickoffs.

It would be too giant a change to the fabric of the game. You can’t do away with a category of the game where a second of the record book gets frozen. Is the current all-time leading kick returner then locked in?

Would there be a parade for Brian Mitchell, who is the career leader in kickoff retuns (607) and kickoff return yards (14,014)? And for Gayle Sayers, who took his 75 returns a record average of 30.56 yards?

Grantland’s Bill Barnwell has some fun with this piece on alternatives to kickoffs, and how to keep alive the concept of the onsides kick.

Some of these ideas are clever, but they create new elements to the game that are unnatural. Awarding possession on the 20 after a touchdown and the 30 after a field goal is not the least bit organic. Do you want your kid or grandkid thinking that’s how football works? I don’t.

I’ve also missed the epidemic of concussions or injuries on kickoffs. I understand it’s an inherently dangerous play with the ground covered at great speed. For the league to sacrifice kickoffs in the name of increased safety also strikes me as artificial.

Any push that minimizes chances for concussions is a good thing, but in a sport that’s centrally about hitting, they’re going to happen. Most such moves are going to qualify as covering the NFL’s behind on the concussion and injury issue.

Let’s not be drastic in trying to cure something that can’t necessarily be fixed.

Numbers game: Developments from Sunday

November, 14, 2011
Numbers and statistical developments of note out of the AFC South’s Sunday, from the ESPN Stats and Info and the NFL …

Colts: The Colts were held to single digit points for the fourth time this season. From 1998 to 2010, the Colts were held to single digits in just six games. The three points are the fewest Indianapolis has scored in a game since a 31-3 loss to Seattle in 1997(not Dec. 26, 1993 against the Patriots as we originally wrote).

Jaguars: Jacksonville stopped its six-game road losing streak and won in Indianapolis for the first time since 2008.

Texans: Houston running back Arian Foster had 102 receiving yards, including a 78-yard touchdown reception, in the Texans’ 37-9 win at Tampa Bay. Foster, who registered a 78-yard touchdown catch in Week 7 at Tennessee, joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton (1983) as the only running backs to have two 70+ yard TD receptions in a season since 1970. The last running back to score on two pass plays of 75 yards or longer in the same season was Gale Sayers as a rookie for the Bears in 1965.

Matt Schaub threw an 80-yard touchdown pass and the 78-yard touchdown pass to Foster, becoming the fourth player since 1990 with two touchdown passes of 78+ yards in a game.

The Texans have allowed fewer than 10 points in three games this season, after having only one such game last season.

Titans: Tennessee has won 13 of its past 14 games against NFC opponents.

Marc Mariani's 79-yard punt return for a touchdown was the second-longest on the road in Titans/Oilers history. The longest was 90 yards by Pacman Jones on November 19, 2006 at Philadelphia.



Sunday, 1/25