Roger Goodell sees a safer alternative to the kickoff. That wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for the Rams.
Enjoy the kickoff while you can. It's going away. The mere fact that commissioner Roger Goodell even mentioned his idea in this week's Time magazine cover story is as sure a sign as you'll get that the kickoff's days are numbered.
That would be just fine for the St. Louis Rams this year. Six different players have attempted to handle kick return duties for the Rams. Together, they are averaging just 21.1 yards per return, which ranks 27th in the NFL. Not good. Now think about the effect that has on the offense.
As DC noted this week, the Rams have a terrible disadvantage when it comes to field position. The Rams start, on average, at their own 24-yard line. Only two teams in the NFL are at a bigger disadvantage for average starting field position. Don't think that doesn't account for some of the team's offensive troubles.
Of course, the league isn't eliminating kickoffs because Goodell is concerned about the Rams ... surprisingly enough. The kickoff is going away as a matter of player safety. In case you forgot, the NFL is currently getting its pants sued off by former players claiming negligence (they have a strong case, btw) by the league over the matter of long-term health problems associated with head trauma.
Rams head coach and competition committee member Jeff Fisher was asked about Goodell's comment on Thursday:
"First off, I don't know if it's a proposal. I think he just, I think somebody asked him, I think he just - I'm not speaking for him, I didn't see it - but, his focus is on player safety. I'm sure it will be something that will be addressed once the committee gets together in February. But that's just...there's been a lot of different things that have come up. Obviously, if you look at what we've done with the kickoff when we moved it up from the 30 (-yard line) to the 35 (-yard line) we haven't had...well, the injury numbers have gone down significantly since the move two years ago. There's been some talk - I think (Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John) Mr. Mara, may have mentioned over a period of time, maybe there will be some consideration that we'll remove it from the game completely, but those things will be discussed during the offseason."
It must not be baseball season since the football reporters at Rams Park were asking about league issues rather than Mike Matheny. That's pretty a pretty classic Fisher answer when asked about a controversial issue. He answers the question and stays out of the fray. Fisher and the Rams have a great situation with a weak football media pool in St. Louis, but even in those conditions Fisher knows better than to wade haphazardly, publicly into the fray.
Expect the issue to be hotly debated behind closed doors in February, but just get used to the idea that the kickoff is going away. How soon it leaves is another matter, but given the Rams' inability to find a difference-maker to return kicks, it won't be entirely missed.