BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Five yards means something to Mike McCarthy.
And the Green Bay Packers coach doesn’t sound happy about giving it up.
Only hours before the NFL owners voted to move touchbacks on kickoffs from the 20- to the 25-yard line, McCarthy expressed reservations about the rule change, which was one of several approved at this week’s owners meetings.
"Do you want the kicking game in the game or not in the game?" McCarthy said Wednesday at the meetings. "If it’s in the game, let’s kick it and return it and let’s play the play. I just don’t like [it], let’s not reward a decision not to compete with five extra yards. If we’re going to compete, let’s compete. If we’re not going to compete, let’s not compete."
Packers president Mark Murphy, a member of the competition committee, said the rule change was initially voted down on Tuesday, but passed after it was revised to a one-year trial.
"The concern there was kickers will do pooch kicks or mortar kicks, so we said, 'let’s do it for one year and see if teams really do have their kickers try and pin people back inside the 20, inside the 10," Murphy said. "That was the thought, let’s see if that’s really what happens."
McCarthy also has concerns about how the new rule that eliminates chop blocks will be officiated.
"The cut block is going to be a bigger change than people realize," McCarthy said.
One of the examples the competition committee showed to the coaches included a play from last season in which a Packers' offensive lineman committed what will now be an illegal block. However, McCarthy said the player, which he identified as his right tackle, made an assignment error and blocked the wrong player, who was already engaged with another Packers' blocker.
"That’s not a reason to make a rule change," McCarthy said. "How does the official know if it’s a mental error. You just have other components. The blatant, when a defender has leverage on the front side of the combination block and the backside element comes and just takes the knee out, there’s no place for that. That’s clearly a player safety issue. No one wants that in there.
"I’m all for adjusting technique and everything, but when you start making all these changes, now you’re going to adjust all the schemes and so forth, it just limits your capabilities to attack your opponent. I don’t think that’s good for the game."
One other rule changes that would seemingly impact the Packers is the new way in which the injured reserve-designated to return spot will be handled. Now, teams don’t have to designate that player right away. Instead, any one player can be activated off injured reserve after six weeks. However, it’s still limited to just one player per season.
The change might have helped in the Packers in 2012, the first year of the temporary IR rule. They designated running back Cedric Benson for return, however, he was never able to come back from a Lisfranc foot injury. The Packers used the temporary IR designation every year since it was approved. Following Benson in 2012, it was used on Randall Cobb in 2013, JC Tretter in 2014 and Andrew Quarless last season.