Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Sep 2005

Football Isn't Just for Kicks

Well, Skip Bayless has just disrespected Adam Vinatieri. Which means he indirectly disrespected Rodney Harrison. Bayless thinks kickers should be abolished because, well, he doesn't really give a good reason. Of course, that doesn't stop him from using 1,200 words to make his case, however weak.

Posted by: P. Ryan Wilson on 30 Sep 2005

86 comments, Last at 04 Oct 2005, 11:16pm by Starshatterer

Comments

1
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:29am

OK, does anyone here agree with him? Anyone? Why does he single out placekickers? Let's get rid of punters, too! We'll completely remove all aspects of strategy from the game. Will that make Skip Bayless happy?

God, the best thing about Bayless is that I'm not forced to listen to him.

2
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:33am

You know what I can't stand about football? PASSING! Who wants or needs that? Let's just run the ball every down, every time. Quarterbacks can't even be TACKLED after they throw the ball! You can't hit them upside the head! It's ridiculous. QB's are pansies.

Just 10 offensive linemen and 1 running back. That's REAL football right there.

3
by JG (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:02am

I'm sure that nobody agrees with Bayless, and quite honestly, I doubt he even means what he says. I enjoy reading his articles, mostly because he doesn't take himself seriously. He writes humorous, entertaining articles about a game. Actually, that's what I like most about ESPN Page2. They have fun with what they do. It is a nice break after reading all the articles on ESPN main page, NFL.com, and SI. Those guys all act like they are discussing peace in the middle east or something. I'm not saying that some of them don't write good articles, but it is nice to have a lighter fare that is as easy to enjoy as a game.

4
by jbf (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:20am

"Football would be a much better game without field goals or PATs."

My Dad (mid-50's; has watched football for much, much longer than I've been alive) has echoed similar thoughts through the years. In fact, if I e-mailed him the link, I'm certain that his reply would start with something like "Great idea!!!"

Of course, whenever he brings it up, I mention that he should phone in his suggestion to talk radio. That ends that.

5
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:22am

You know what I can't stand about football? Stupid columnists. Can we get rid of those instead?

6
by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:38am

I think we've found the only thing in the entire world that Skip Bayless and King Kaufman agree on. King's made this case before in his Salon column, and probably better.

7
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:14am

The idea of having a regular player kick is a good one. We do that in rugby, and it doesn't hurt the game at all. You don't have to institute a minimum number of plays to do it. Just say that in the event of a TD, someone currently on the field has to kick the conversion. I won't go so far as to say that the guy who scored has to kick, though that would be interesting (some 7s tournaments require this, BTW), and I really don't want to see griddies trying to make kicks in line from where they score. Now, for field goals, I say get rid of how they are, and let teams opt to drop kick out of punt formation or shotgun. That would be interesting. Oh, and keep the ball live during all kicking plays. That would spice things up a bit.

8
by DGL (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:15am

Actually, Skip is merely looking for an extension of a trend that started around the turn of the century. If you go back far enough, football scoring was weighted overwhelmingly in favor of kicking (go back really far, and you come to rules where a "touch-down" only gave you the opportunity to kick a "goal", and gave you no points itself). Over time, the point value of the touchdown increased and the point values of the field goal and conversion decreased, until sometime (I believe in the teens or 20s) they settled at 6/3/1.

If you want to devalue kicking, you don't have to abolish kickers -- just change the value of a field goal to two points (or one point, if you really want to be extreme).

9
by BillinNYC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:21am

Sophandros took the letters right from my keyboard (can't say words from my mouth, cause neither of us are talking).

In rugby, at any point in the game, someone can drop kick the equivalent of a field goal (albeit worth 1 pt less, but so are TDs).

Skip explains why Punters are part of the game, so he does explain that.

Otherwise, I don't think this is a ludicrous idea. Punt or go for it!

10
by noahpoah (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:38am

can’t say words from my mouth, cause neither of us are talking

Hey, just because you don't talk while you type doesn't mean others don't also. Or either. Whatever.

I think that PATs should follow the late season XFL rules (or some modification of same) - 1 PAT if you get it into the end zone from the 5, 2 PATs if you get it in from the 15, 3 from the 25, etc... maybe extend it to 4 PATs maximum.

That would make a lot of currently two or three possession games into one possession games, and it would make many exciting endings, I would think.

As for field goals, I'll just defer to Skippy. He seems pretty smart and on the level.

11
by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:41am

King Kaufman sent me a couple of his comments about kickers. These are from college football columns but the idea is the same. Click here and here.

12
by Jorge (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 12:15pm

Something he fails to understand:

If his "warriors" had done their job in the first place, it wouldn't come down to the "wimps"

13
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 12:51pm

"And punters occasionally are required to attempt to get in the way of returners who have bolted through 10 potential tacklers."

The annual serious injury rate for punters in the NFL is 14 percent. For kickers, it's 21 percent.

Seems to me kickers get hit more often than punters (because kick returners get to head back at a faster rate for more yards, on average, they generate more velocity and force upon impact, which sometimes is against the kicker's flailing trunk).

Why not just do away with coaches (they were an add-on fairly late in the development of professional football, as we all know), long snappers, punters, "specialists" who only play one side of the ball and all those namby-pamby forward passers and their nancy boy wideouts?

14
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:02pm

Skip explains why Punters are part of the game, so he does explain that.

Not really. He just makes a few arguments that punting takes more skill because apparently, hangtime isn't important in kickoffs, and punters can control the bounce of the football well enough to force backward bounces. Little did we know that all those bad bounces were really sucky punters.

He even admits that some of the arguments he's making for punters apply to kickers, but then says "but punters belong in football."

It's silly.

15
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:09pm

Ugh. It hurt me even to skim this article.

I don't see why specialization of the kicking role is such a problem. It's okay to have blocking backs, third-down backs, slot receivers, fourth receivers, long snappers, holders ... but not kickers? Personally, I'd rather see the player with the best kicking skills on the team trying the FG or XP. Watching Joey Harrington try to kick ... ha ha ... kick ... ha ha ... I can't even say it.

Anyway, watching someone else try in vain to kick a FG would be funny at first, but would quickly lose its humor. Even if you did adopt a rugby-like rule, it would follow that your better scorers would probably practice kicking more often, wouldn't they? Or if it didn't have to be the person who scored, you'd just end up with a K-WR or a K-RB. And the time they'd spend practicing placekicking would take away from the time they'd spend at their normal position. So you'd end up with a situation not that different than today, except that the kicking would be worse, and the K-WR's WR skills would be slightly worse.

Now the problem I'm having is that I'm picturing myself talking about this with Skip while he's making his Around the Horn angry face.

16
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:21pm

Bill, a drop goal is three points, just like a penalty. But you're right, a try is five, with two points for the conversion.

17
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:33pm

Skip was on Cold Pizza talking about this same issue. His argument basically came down to "kickers are wimps" - at which point my wife noted that any pro kicker could easily kick his butt, and called him the worst commentartor she's ever heard anywhere.

Like the reply above, I don't understand why there is this sense that kickers are not a "real" part of the game - just because they're smaller and perceived as less macho? It's silly.

18
by Kachunk (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:49pm

RE #14: Right on. It makes no sense to complain about kickers if you are ok with the level of specialization elsewhere in football. I mean c'mon--in what other sport do you have entirely different teams to play offense and defense?? Football is a game of specialists...so why not have one more?

Besides has this guy ever tried placekicking? I'd agree that punting is a little harder than placekicking, but it's still not easy.

The one thing I've always wondered is why on earth aren't the punter and the place kicker the same person? They're similar enough skills that you shouldn't need to take up two roster spots for what is essentially one job: Kicking the football.

19
by VikesFan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 1:58pm

Kaufman has made the same point and made it much better . . . I was just re-reading Roy Blounte's About Three Bricks Shy Of A Load and he argues for a role that a kicker should have to participate in one regular scrimmage play each quarter before attempting a field goal.

Personally, I'm starting to grow weary of all the specialization in football, not to mention baseball. We're losing some of the spontaneity and randomness that makes the games bear watching.

That's part of why sometimes it's more fun to watch the high schoolers, where one kid might be playing offence, defence, kicking and returning kicks. Yes, it takes some of the certainty out of the game for the coaches, but it's entertaining, in its way.

20
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:03pm

Anyway, watching someone else try in vain to kick a FG would be funny at first, but would quickly lose its humor.

Dude, trust Eagles fans. It got old after the second attempt.

21
by Steve (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:04pm

I couldn't agree with #14 any more strongly. Can anyone give me one GOOD reason why the NFL should adopt some of these assinine new rules some of you are suggesting? If there's something fundamentally wrong with the way the NFL does things today, then why are millions of fans glued to the TV sets every sunday for 14 hours at a time? I played rugby in college and love that sport too, but if I want to watch a fly-half kick a conversion, I'll watch a rugby game.

I don't think Skippy has ever had anything intelligent to say, and the only way he can get anyone to listen to him is to say the dumbest thing he can think of and shout it at the top of his lungs. Maybe it's time to start investing in earplugs.

22
by deadteddy8 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:44pm

The thing is, he could have made a little bit of sense if he'd gone even further. Let's say you drop kicking (HA! PUN!) from the game. What then? Well, all you'd have to do is go for it on every fourth down. What about kickoffs? Simple. Go to the old touch football standby of the "throw off". Instead, he makes a distinction between kickers and punters that makes absolutely no sense. To paraphrase: more punters are beefier than most kickers.

On a related note, what's with the Eagles punter not being able to do ANY placekicking? One would think that as an eminently replaceable player, you'd work on making yourself as useful as possible. So, if you're not gonna go all Tom Tupa and be the fourth string QB, the least you could do is be an emergency placekicker.

23
by Goldbach (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:51pm

The Eagles' punter is recovering from surgery to fix a sports hernia. Perhaps he's cleared for the motion of puntng, but not for kicking?

24
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 2:54pm

Regarding specialization in football:

Didn't there used to be a rule way back that said you could only substitute one player per play? Or am I getting mixed up with XFL or Arena leagues? I've often wondered if that would be interesting. When the other team gets the ball, most of your offense is still on the field, and most of their defense. Longer drives would allow more and more specialized players to be brought in, but it would force all football players to have more all around skill and less specialized skills.

Note I said it would be interesting. The quality of play would actually go down. But players like Troy Brown and Mike Vrabel would certainly like it!

I don't actually want to see this. If it's not broke, don't fix it. I like football the way it is.

25
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:03pm

An article from today's Boston Herald is reporting that Tedy B. is contemplating a return this season

26
by Phil (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:04pm

An article from today's Boston Herald is reporting that Tedy B. is contemplating a return this season

27
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:06pm

On a related note, what’s with the Eagles punter not being able to do ANY placekicking?

He was a safety in college, who also punted. He never learned to placekick in college (because he didn't need to), and he hasn't been with a team long enough for them to have him learn to placekick.

Note that the Eagles said they might be doing that, but it would take a while.

28
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:07pm

zlionsfan, that Harrington bit was hilarious... And I agree with you. I have no problem with specialization. Football is already filled with specialists and I'd really rather watch the best kickers. The problem with these "specialization" arguments is that they're artificial, like any rule change. It's like the DH in baseball. I have no problem with people preferring one over the other. It's just that there's this meaningless "purist" argument that gets presented. Just because one set of rules came before another set of rules in time doesn't make that set of rules any better. It's down to the question of "what game do you want to see?" And I'm fine with the current game.

29
by Jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:36pm

Come on, guys. Surely you have to admit that the extra point try in football is a complete waste of time... The number of times it is missed, or blocked, and that 1 point has actually made a difference in the final outcome is very, very small. I have no problem with field goals, but how many times have YOU walked out of the room after a TD score to get a beer and chips, mentally adding a SEVEN to the score, without actually WATCHING the extra point try. I know I've done that, lots of times, cause I know with 95% certainty what's going to happen...and its up.... and its goooood. Fade to commercial.

30
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:40pm

I think field goals should be 1 point per 10 yards the line of scrimmage is from the goal line.

31
by deadteddy8 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 3:42pm

#23: Fair enough. However, I'm no doctor, so I can't speak definitively on the issue, but I'm hard pressed to think of an injury that would rule out place kicking and yet not rule out punting. Mild groin strain?

#27: I don't buy it. This is his third year in the league, and anyone who is on an NFL team on flimsy pretenses to begin with (without looking at numbers, I'll assume Johnson's either an average or below-average punter) should make himself as useful as possible. With so many punters doing kickoffs, Hentrich et al, one would think it would behoove him to at least give it a shot during downtime in practices.

32
by Ferg (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 4:02pm

Re #30: On the one hand, that rewards harder field goals, but on the other hand, that would penalize better offenses, since they'd be closer to the end zone on average when they kicked.

Re #31: Actually, according to the special teams ratings Johnson was one of the best punters last year (or at least, the Eagles had one of the best punting units).

33
by Chad (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 4:08pm

#28, as a Packer fan I agree 100%! How often could a game come down to a missed extra point?

34
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 4:09pm

The annual serious injury rate for punters in the NFL is 14 percent. For kickers, it’s 21 percent.

Carl, are you saying that each year, on average, 21% of NFL kickers sustain a serious injury? That seems extremely high to me. 7 kickers per year?

35
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 4:35pm

Actually Richie, 7 sounds about right. Look at this year...we've already had Akers pull up lame, and didn't we ahve another one get hurt already?

And Carl, I see you took my stance on the subject...

"Why not just do away with coaches (they were an add-on fairly late in the development of professional football, as we all know), long snappers, punters, “specialists� who only play one side of the ball and all those namby-pamby forward passers and their nancy boy wideouts? "

Look at post #2 :)

36
by Johonny (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:12pm

It's hard to believe Skip Clueless keeps getting gigs.

37
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:23pm

Well, first you have to realize that there are more than 32 kickers who ply their trade in the NFL every year. Some get injured. Others lose their jobs. Some teams have both a place kicker and a guy on hand to take care of the kickoffs.

2000 was a particularly unlucky year for kickers -- 20 of them (out of 38 who suited up) got hurt. Some years, of course, are lower than that. Over a five year period, the NFL averaged about eight or so serious injuries every season, including the playoffs (but not camps or preseason games, which include many more kickers vying for spots on a team).

To put 2000 in perspective, you have four guys alone serious injure their quadriceps. There wasn't another recorded quad injury for QBs for another four years.

38
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:29pm

Ooops. That should have read:

To put 2000 in perspective, you have four guys alone seriousLY injure their quadriceps. There wasn’t another recorded quad injury for Ks for another four years.

39
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:31pm

2000 was the worst year for punters, too -- 11 got seriously hurt.

As I've written elsewhere, punters suffer a disproportionate number of wrist injuries. They make the mistake of putting their hand down to brace themselves before impacting the dirt after getting clipped.

40
by TimW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:52pm

Bayless seems to be getting more and more desperate for material. There is a football season going on, and this is the best he can come up with?

41
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 5:57pm

"On the one hand, that rewards harder field goals, but on the other hand, that would penalize better offenses, since they’d be closer to the end zone on average when they kicked."

No, these "better offenses" would go for the touchdown rather than kick a 26 yard field goal that's worth 1 point.

42
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 6:06pm

No, these “better offenses� would go for the touchdown rather than kick a 26 yard field goal that’s worth 1 point.

Unless your chance of getting a touchdown is less than 1 in 7. And if you're 15 yards out, and it's fourth down, I'd say it probably is.

43
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 6:19pm

"You know what I can’t stand about football? Stupid columnists. Can we get rid of those instead?"

How about we compromise and just let Vinatieri, et al, kick Skip Bayless after every TD?

Some ESPN columnist will get yanked from the press box and have a soccer-style kick applied to his buttocks.

44
by Ferg (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 6:23pm

Re 40: Right, but they'd be even better off if they had been stopped sooner.

Like, suppose you wind up with 4th and goal on the 8. If you kick the field goal you get one point (for the sake of argument let's say it's guaranteed at this range). So let's say you go for it. I don't actually know the numbers, but I can't believe that offenses would convert that more than about a quarter of the time, making your expected return 1.75 points.

On the other hand, if you're stopped at the 30 and attempt a 40-yard field goal, you have about a 3 in 4 chance of making it, for an expected return of 2.25 points. In other words, getting stopped 20 yards sooner is worth about half a point on average.

45
by snw (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 6:24pm

Have you ever noticed that the top kickers of all time (in %) are currently playing? Kickers are just too good. I'd make kicking more difficult (narrow the posts?) and get rid of these 88% accuracy rates on some of these guys.

46
by mactbone (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 6:33pm

There's a significant difference in the motions for punting and placekicking. There's even a difference between placekicking and kicking off. I can only think of one player who does all three - Travis Dorsch, one of the most hated players in West Lafayette. He wasn't really all that good at any of the things he did but in college that's OK.

Todd Sauerbrun DEN
Michael Koenen ATL
Rob Bironas TEN
Remy Hamilton DET
Dave Rayner IND
Jason Baker CAR
Brian Moorman BUF
Nick Harris DET
Paul Ernster DEN
Dave Zastudil BAL

These are all the guys who have kicked and aren't regular placekickers (from my recollection, so if someone knows more accurately please speak up).

What is really kind of interesting is how many teams have used multiple people for kickoffs. Part of those are due to injury but not all.

Anyways, I count 5 punters on that list. NFL.com lists 40 players that have kicked off. That's actually a pretty small percentage of punters that do both.

47
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 7:05pm

Well, there's always George Blanda. Sorry, kids, he's not in Madden06.

Coming out of Kentucky, he probably took a pay cut when he went to the Bears (just kidding, George!).

You know, the HOF voters have been warming to Nick Lowery, but he hasn't made the final cut for selection.

If I might mention some old-timers who punted, kicked and did whatever else the team asked them to do:

Jesse Rodriguez, a fullback and punter for the Buffalo Bisons in 1929 (the second Latino player in NFL history);

Yale Leary, Detroit Lions DB (in HOF) who punted AND returned kick offs. The Lions are kind of famous about this kind of stuff. Lem Barney, a legendary CB returned kicks and filled in as a punter.

Tom Landry. Sure he invented the flex defense and pioneered the shotgun pass, but did you know he was a DB and punter for both the Yankees of the AAFC and the NY Giants of the NFL?

And if there's one name you should remember from today's lesson, it's that of Bob Waterfield.

The first rookie ever to become NFL MVP, Waterfield was one of the game's great deep passers, served as the Rams' best defensive back and their place kicker AND had a 42.4 yard punting average!

Eight seasons: 573 points on 13 rushing TDs, 315 PATs and 60 field goals. Oh, he also threw for 11,849 yards and 97 TDs and intercepted 20 passes.

Put him in your fantasy lineup. Beware of the interceptions (he was Kyle Ortonesque in that regard).

48
by LTA (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 7:05pm

Hmm...I really don't understand what everyone's problem with Bayless is. None of his arguments are meant to be taken totally seriously. That's why he is on Page 2 with Simmons, Whitlock, et al. I don't like all his material, but some of his stuff is pretty funny.

Anyway, I can see the point that kickers don't really belong as specialists in football. Mind you, I don't care that much one way or the other, but just think about it. We have a game played by powerful, tough guys pounding the snot out of each other. This game is built around passing and running a ball up and down a field. No kicking is involved whatsoever in moving the ball into your end zone (as in you can't kick to a teammate or anything like that). But then we have these odd yellow poles at each end of the field and we let a guy who doesn't do anything else in the game come out and kick the ball through the poles. This guy is usually pretty small (I've seen college kickers around 5'4 and 130 odd pounds) and insulated from contact (roughing the kicker). He has a huge impact on the outcome of the game, even though what he does goes completely against the spirit of the rest of the game. If you actually think about it, it really doesn't fit.
It would be like if basketball let you carry a specialist to come in and kick the ball into a bucket at half-court to score points. Or if baseball allowed one player per inning to come in and try to throw the ball out of the park for a home run.

49
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 7:34pm

"Unless your chance of getting a touchdown is less than 1 in 7. And if you’re 15 yards out, and it’s fourth down, I’d say it probably is."

Wouldn't it be cool if someone had a play-by-play database where you could see how often single plays from the 8 yard line or closer are successful in scoring a touchdown instead of just guessing?

I bet we could even use this information to figure out a distance where there is exactly a 1 in 7 chance to score a TD on a single play and have that where a field goal is 1 point.

50
by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 7:44pm

Have you ever noticed that the top kickers of all time (in %) are currently playing? Kickers are just too good. I’d make kicking more difficult (narrow the posts?) and get rid of these 88% accuracy rates on some of these guys.

Especially that Doug Brien guy. I mean, does he ever miss?

51
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 7:58pm

"Oh, look, they're inside the 8! Field goals will only be worth 1 point now, and it's 4th and goal. What will they do?"

false start
false start
false start
false start

Hey look, it's worth 3 now!

52
by Jeff F (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:02pm

Jerry P - of course, that doesn't account for the offense, at all. San Diego, with Gates and Tomlinson, are going to be in much better shape than Arizona, in this regard. So, Arizona has a less than 1 in 7 chance of making the TD, and SD has a > than 1 in 7 chance of making it. So, Arizona should kick it almost every time, and SD should go for the TD most of the time.

Now, you could propose to account for offenses/defenses, too, but this is getting ridiculous. Football has to have more rules than any other sport, or damn near it. This would only serve to further complicate the game, even more.

53
by Carl (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:06pm

Completely off topic, but after I wrote "Jesse Rodriguez" above, I started to think about who would be the great Latino players of the NFL. A similar list for MLB has been controversial this year, partly because it didn't include a certain HOF OF for the Boston Red Sox.

Tom Fears, certainly. But who else would make the list of really, really great Latino football players?

Anthony Munoz, no doubt.

Eddie Saenz at RB. Ron Rivera at LB.

Jim Plunkett at QB, with Tom Flores backing him up? Garcia? George Mira?

Would you put Jose Cortez at PK?

Maybe it's the game this weekend in Mexico City that's got me wondering.

54
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:28pm

the NFL averaged about eight or so serious injuries every season,

So if half the NFL teams had kickoff specialists, that's 48 kickers in the league, on average per year. If 8 get hurt, then 8 replacements come in, giving the NFL an average of 56 kickers on rosters during the season. That's only about 14% injuries.

55
by Richie (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:33pm

Have you ever noticed that the top kickers of all time (in %) are currently playing?

I'm guessing it's because they haven't hit the decline stage of their careers yet. Soon they will get old, start missing more kicks, and fall back to the back. Seems like the all-time leader in FG% is always an active player.

56
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 8:48pm

"“Oh, look, they’re inside the 8! Field goals will only be worth 1 point now, and it’s 4th and goal. What will they do?�
false start
false start
false start
false start
Hey look, it’s worth 3 now!"

You're purposefully ignoring that my idea could be modified so that the distances at which the field goal becomes worth 3 points is further back so I guess this discussion is rather pointless.

57
by Vince (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:41pm

Jerry P: Imagine that a team is down by three in two-minute drill mode. They get a first and goal at the one, but throw three incomplete passes (Mike Martz is coaching) Now it's 4th and goal at the one with ten seconds to go and you need three points. THAT is when teams will go false start, false start, false start.

I don't see the point in making long field goals more valuable. To benefit bad offenses with good kickers?

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:56pm

Larry, I think you're misunderstanding what I was saying. Vince's got it right. A team with a good kicker that's within the "1-point zone" will just false-start their way back into the "3-point zone". A 90% shot of 3 points is better than 1 point.

Then again, can you decline false-start penalties? I guess that'd be a way around it.

59
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 9:58pm

I hate to admit this, but I *almost* agree with Skip. But rather than eliminating field goals and punters, they should be REQUIRED to be on the field the play before the kick attempt. And drop kick field goals would be legal.

60
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:00pm

Re: #51

Are you MAD Carl? Raul Allegre, all the way.

61
by NF (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:16pm

#47: "Wouldn’t it be cool if someone had a play-by-play database where you could see how often single plays from the 8 yard line or closer are successful in scoring a touchdown instead of just guessing?

I bet we could even use this information to figure out a distance where there is exactly a 1 in 7 chance to score a TD on a single play and have that where a field goal is 1 point."

Ummm...

(click link)

62
by masocc (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 10:17pm

Re: #51

Man, I'm trying to fill the TE position for the all-Latino team, and its driving me crazy... I *know* there's been a good Latino TE lately... who was it, now? Oh yeah, OJ Santiago! :D

63
by Jerry P. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/30/2005 - 11:07pm

"Imagine that a team is down by three in two-minute drill mode. They get a first and goal at the one, but throw three incomplete passes (Mike Martz is coaching) Now it’s 4th and goal at the one with ten seconds to go and you need three points. THAT is when teams will go false start, false start, false start."

And that would be a perfectly legit strategy. The point is if you push the range out far enough that it has to be to count for 3 you now have to consider if just running a play from the 1 yard line is more likely to score than kicking a long field goal.

I don't see how this helps bad teams with good kickers. Bad teams won't be able to cop out and kick 3 when they stall out at the 18. They'll have to settle for 1 or 2 points. At best it makes them always kick long if they want 3. That's not easier than now where they can kick 3 from the 1 yard line.

Now I know that this is a complicated and impractical solution but I think it would have the desired effect, that's all I am saying. Not advocating it as a solution. Removing field goals entirely I would support.

"Ummm…
(click link)"

Look up! There's the joke!

64
by JMK (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 12:46am

Any chance we can completely remove Skip Bayless from the world of journalism?

65
by Joey (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 3:21am

Most football fans aren't enthralled with kickers. Most players don't really like or understand them, either. Clearly, we're stuck with them, but it doesn't hurt to dream of a world where the ultimate specialists are no more. (Like the good old days when "real" players also performed the kicking chores.) Shoot, in the interim, I'd settle for the kickers actually doing ALL the kicking rather than some teams employing a guy just for kickoffs. If not for roster restrictions, every team would probably have an onsides specialist, too.

66
by pchase (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 4:03am

I kinda agree with the crazy columnist. its not that kickers are "wusses" or whatever nonsense, its just that its so different than the rest of the game that it seems weird.

Id take it further though. no kickoffs, after a td you get it at the 50. no punts, you turn it over after four downs. also each team gets a set number of possessions (i hate teams killing time). wont ever happen, but i think itd be entertaining.

67
by Mr Shush (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 8:57am

Football is a territorial game. It rewards territorial gains. Having field goals worth three points regardless of where they're kicked from is an effective way of doling out reward (points) in proportion to the success of an offense - the shorter the distance, the higher the probability of success, and hence the greater the expectation of points. A TD remains considerably more valuable, so a team gets additional reward for not being stopped at all. Where is the problem here?

I would also say at this point that not only do I find it distinctly unsurprising that the standard of NFL kicking and punting has risen over time; I will be astounded if it does not continue to rise for a few years yet, because it is still not all that good. Teams do not employ specialist kicking coaches. Why? Why? They seam to have worked out ok for the likes of Wilkinson and Carter (rugby fly halves of England and New Zealand respectively, either of whom I suspect would walk into any NFL team as certainly a kicker and probably a punter given a little acclimatisation). Do golf pros have no-one to help them with their swing?

As to the "why not just have one K/P?" question, experience of watching soccer goalkeepers at every level of the game leads me to believe that at least some people really are just much, much better at one than the other. Which suggests that damn near everyone is probably at least a bit better at one than the other. So if we're talking only about the 32 people in the whole world who are best (we're not - see comments above re. Wilkinson/Carter - but there you go) there's not likely to be much overlap.

68
by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 9:12am

I think some people don't really understand who Bayless is. No, he's not being funny. Yes, he's always been a jerk.

He was a columnist for awhile in Chicago and consistently bashed the Bears - which is fine because they weren't good but he would make facetious and illogical arguments - which isn't fine. He then moved to the Bay area (San Fran) a couple years ago to work for a paper but I think he's already been dumped from that gig and he just does ESPN stuff now.

I repeat, he's not being funny. This is how he wrote his columns. I think of him as a hack and maybe I'm being harsh but I've never seen him write anything worthwhile. He drags out tired arguments, that aren't even true, to try to make his arguments - and he doesn't even write well enough that you can excuse his mental processes to enjoy his prose.

69
by Björn (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 9:34am

Q- What do you get when you take kickers and punters out of football?

A- NFL Street.

Also, the CFL has a few guys who handle/have handled kicking, punting and kickoff duties. Troy Westwood of the Blue Bombers kicked, punted, and kicked off for a couple years. He sucked. Sean Fleming of the Eskimos does a much better job of all three, but he is an incredibly streaky guy.

70
by A leg up on Gregg (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 12:12pm

*****I repeat, he’s not being funny. This is how he wrote his columns. I think of him as a hack and maybe I’m being harsh but I’ve never seen him write anything worthwhile. He drags out tired arguments, that aren’t even true, to try to make his arguments - and he doesn’t even write well enough that you can excuse his mental processes to enjoy his prose. ****

I'll remember that next time someone bitches about Carl's take on Easterbrook. At least Bayless doesn't drag in a lot of junk about cheerleaders, lattes or any other shtick apparently we need to understand the game of football.

71
by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 3:03pm

The point is, TMQ is written well enough and MMQB has enough interesting points (for me) that I can ignore the bad arguments - Bayless is just all around bad.

Al Del Greco would have to be the kicker.

72
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 3:28pm

Football is a territorial game. It rewards territorial gains. Having field goals worth three points regardless of where they’re kicked from is an effective way of doling out reward (points) in proportion to the success of an offense - the shorter the distance, the higher the probability of success, and hence the greater the expectation of points. A TD remains considerably more valuable, so a team gets additional reward for not being stopped at all. Where is the problem here?

Amen.

However, this doesn't explain the need for PAT's. Might as well just make it automatic unless you want to go for 2, like in NFL Blitz.

73
by benjy (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 3:42pm

test.

74
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 3:47pm

And now, a shout-out to Gino Cappelletti, WR/PK and all-time leading scorer for the Boston/New England Patriots. (Official team bio linked.)

I'm pretty sure he could handle the "guy who scores must kick the PAT" rule.

75
by mactbone (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 5:49pm

I'm not sure why there was an XP back when 2 pt conversions weren't allowed but now point/s after is extremely important in terms of strategy.

I was looking for at data for kickers and found that most kickers miss at least one XP a year - it's not as automatic as we think it is. I know the pros are better than college but I'm sure everyone can remember a placekicker for their college team that absolutely killed them every couple of games by missing XPs. One point can always make a difference.

76
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 8:51pm

Re: #59

Drop kick field goals are legal. However, thanks to a rules change circa 1994, they can only be attempted behind the LOS. Before that, they could be attempted from anywhere on the field.

Which brings up a wild idea Flutie had pre-1994. He proposed that a team have one of its WRs practice drop kicks and then if a team was down by 3 or less but was backed up enough or had little enough time that they'd normally have to try the hail mary for 7 (even though they were only down by 3), you'd instead send that WR down the middle (where he'd be wiiiide open because the DBs would be so far back), throw it to him, he'd run as far downfield as he felt he could be before getting tackled, and then drop-kick the tying/winning FG.

77
by Wicked (not verified) :: Sat, 10/01/2005 - 11:50pm

Poor Skippy doesn't realize the kicking game in football brings a whole different dimension to the strategy of the game. Without it just wouldn't be as fun or exciting.

78
by masocc (not verified) :: Sun, 10/02/2005 - 10:14am

Re: #76
Thanks for the clarification PatsFan. I'd vaguely remembered drop kick figgies as being legal, but figured I MUST be misremembering, since I literally haven't seen one in decades. So how long until Belichick pulls one out to win a game? LOL.

Seriously though, why doesn't anyone EVER use this option? It seems to me that coaches aren't NEARLY creative enough. Somebody should start thinking outside of the box and bring in some of the best Aussie rules guys to wreak havok in TMQ's Maroon Zone.

79
by masocc (not verified) :: Sun, 10/02/2005 - 10:16am

Re: #71
Al Del Greco? Possibly, except he's not Latino. Tony Zendejas or Olindo Mare could work. But I still have a soft spot for Raul Allegre for some odd reason.

80
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sun, 10/02/2005 - 2:52pm

#75:
I was looking for at data for kickers and found that most kickers miss at least one XP a year

According to Yahoo, here are the total number of missed PAT's in the entire league for the last few years:
2004 - 10 (by 9 teams)
2003 - 18 (by 17 teams)
2002 - 17 (by 11 teams)
2001 - 19 (by 15 teams)
So it looks like generally more than half of the teams in the NFL do not miss a PAT all season. Most kickers do not miss an XP all year.

#78:
Seriously though, why doesn’t anyone EVER use this option? It seems to me that coaches aren’t NEARLY creative enough. Somebody should start thinking outside of the box and bring in some of the best Aussie rules guys to wreak havok in TMQ’s Maroon Zone.

If you can only use the drop kick behind the LOS, how is it any more useful than kicking a FG normally? Can you drop kick further or more accurately or something? I'm not being sarcastic, I just don't know anything at all about drop kicking.

81
by dervin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 12:34am

If we got rid of the PK, Football would turn into soccer (the dull EPL version), coaches would just give us bend don't break defenses and there'd be no scoring at all.

While we are comparing Page2 "writers" I think what make Bayless so annoying is the other writers use Page2 to try new things out, things that wouldn't work in a traditional sports column (TSG for example). Bayless distills everything we hate about sports writers and amplifies it. To put it in Stand Up comedy terms, Page2 Hoped for Gilbert Gottfried but ended up with Pauly Shore.

82
by dervin (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 12:44am

If we got rid of the PK, Football would turn into soccer (the dull EPL version), coaches would just give us bend don't break defenses and there'd be no scoring at all.

While we are comparing Page2 "writers" I think what make Bayless so annoying is the other writers use Page2 to try new things out, things that wouldn't work in a traditional sports column (TSG for example). Bayless distills everything we hate about sports writers and amplifies it. To put it in Stand Up comedy terms, Page2 Hoped for Gilbert Gottfried but ended up with Pauly Shore.

83
by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 5:16am

Re: #80
Well David, it could open up a LOT more options, I think. For starters, the Aussie football guys seem to be quite accurate at kicking a slightly different ball.

Secondly, think about a scenario such as this: Tom Tupa in his prime (a punter/QB), or Randall Cunningham (owner of the longest punt in history, at 92 yards on a surprise punt) are back in a deep shotgun, on say, 4th and 4 at the 20. They could then have the option to pass if its obviously there, or drop kick for the figgie.

Or you could split out say... Mike Vick, or Dante Hall, or someone similarly athletic (after teaching them to kick fairly decently)... Play with a QB come (misspelled to avoid filter) punter lined up under center, or shotgun, or deep like a punter. Options to kick, or swing a lateral or forward pass (completed behind the line of scrimmage) to your atheletic 'wing punter'.... All depending on what the defense gives you, and what kind of schemes your personnel can pull off.

Might be higher risk, but could be a huge reward too.

84
by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:15am

Of course, it could be a crackpot idea too. But its sure fun to think about.

85
by masocc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/03/2005 - 10:22am

Okay, upon further review, I'm an idjit. Scratch all of my references to 'drop kicks' and replace them with 'punts'.

Somehow, I'd managed to forget the whole bit about the legal 'drop kicks' being required to actually touch the ground before being kicked. Presumably, you can't just tap the ball on the ground and then kick it, so with the pointier modern football, and faster defensive athletes, there's no way in hell a drop kick would be very effective.

So, I say: "Legalize the Punted Field Goal!" Oh, and the Punter still has to be on the field the play before a punt or field goal attempt.

86
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/04/2005 - 11:16pm

Does anyone else remember this even more obscure rule regarding drop-kicks -- the receiving team may attempt a free (no rush) drop-kick from the spot of a fair-caught kickoff -- ?

I recall booth analysts discussing that as a reason more onsides aren't tried: the receiving team could fair-catch the ball, then free kick from the spot for a cheap field goal.