I don't align myself with any political party. I patently refuse to claim that any one religion has an upper hand over any other in terms of which one is correct. I do not take sides in the boxers or briefs debate. And I won't put my foot down and take a stand when comparing real boobs to fake ones. [After all, if she paid for them, they're hers]. However, long time AP readers all know by now the #1 thing that I will choose a side about. Defense is 10,000 times more interesting, more entertaining, and more exciting to watch than offense ever will be. Defense IS football. Offense may sell tickets to the layman fans and it may be the only thing that fantasy football goobs tune in to watch, but defensive football is what brings me back every Sunday. Hard nosed, big hitting, run stuffing, quarterback punishing, snot bubble forming, mud in the face mask, blood on the jersey DEFENSE is THE reason I love football.
***Note: A fantasy football goob is someone that never followed the NFL, and would never be reading an internet football blog if they hadn't discovered fantasy football a couple seasons ago. AND it's someone that has a fair weather fans attitude about individual teams because they only care about which players will earn them the most points in their league this year. Don't get your panties in a bunch and start sending me emails about how you're a REAL FAN even though you play fantasy football. I play fantasy football too. I just happen to live in a reality where I can understand that football players and coaches play to win games, not max out my fantasy points.
Whoever came up with the 'tuck' rule needs to be taken down a dark alley and have the 'tuck' beaten out of him. Which ever moron decided that a QB should be the only player on the field allowed to grab the ball actively advancing it down the field, and yet also be completely protected from taking a hit [as long as he slides as he crosses the 1st down marker] should be dragged kicking and screaming to the top of the nose bleed section in the dead of a Green Bay winter, stripped naked, get dunked in a water tank, and hung over the side of the stadium in the wind until frozen solid. And don't even get me started on the 'spot foul' for pass interference instead of a 15 yard penalty.
In 2010 approximately 16% of kickoffs resulted in a touch back. In the 2011 preseason approximately double that, or 32%, of all kickoffs have resulted in a touch back. It's not the end of the world, and it certainly hasn't removed the play from the game completely. The player injury rate per 100 plays on kickoff plays in 2010 was slightly more than DOUBLE the player injury rate for non-kickoff plays. Meaning the players were putting themselves at a significantly higher risk every time they stepped on the field for a kickoff play. I can understand completely why the NFL would want to do something to try and curtail the injuries cased by players colliding into each other with 40 yards of acceleration behind them multiple times a game. Is the rule perfect? No, it's not. It has, and will, double the number of touch backs in the game, and result in the chance for an exciting return being reduced to 68% instead of 84%. However, that's not the implication of the new kickoff rule I want to highlight today.
There's a stat more important than a 16% increase in touch backs related to the new kickoff rules. Only 12% of all drives that began at or behind the 20 yard line ended in touchdowns in 2010. NFL teams have been spoiled by all the pass happy rule changes that have resulted in an erosion of team's abilities to sustain a long drive down the field and score touchdowns. The balance scale between offense and defense has been so incredibly lopsided in the offences favor with most of the recent rule changes that I'm THRILLED to see a rule that once again makes superior defensive relevant.
No more will a 20 yard kick return force a situation where 1 long pass, or 1 pass interference call will put the offense in the opponents red zone. Offensive coordinators will be forced to include more plays designed to move the chains, and defenses will have more time on the field to bring the heat on quarterbacks and fill the gaps in the line forcing running backs into a white foaming 10 foot tall wave of defenders. Linebackers in the shallows will have to dust off their coverage skills, and the 3rd level defenders can once again revel in defending 30, 40 or 50 yards of field behind the defense instead of just protecting the 10 yards of end zone and 15 yards of field they so often live in. The new kickoff rules are going to cause a glorious turn of events for a defensive fan-boys just like me. In 2011 there will be a 16% increase in the number of times that NFL defenses get to test their metal and match their wits against the offensive juggernauts that have seen a seemingly never ending stream rule changes in their favor.
Defense is born again in the National Football League, and I can't wait. So moan and cry, if you must, about a 16% decrease in the number of times 1 fast runner weaves the field for 7 or 8 seconds trying to score. I, for one, will be too busy foaming at the mouth for the 16% increase in the number of times offenses will have to go toe-to-toe against defenders in their attempt to drive a full 80 yards down the field. Only 12% of drives that started at or inside the 20 yard line resulted in touchdowns a year ago. If those kind of defensive stands are going to happen 16% more often this year than I'm going to need to install soundproofing in my house so the neighbors won't be bothered by my defensive fan boy excitement every Sunday. Go Chiefs!