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Attacking the kneel-down

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2013 – 9:10 am

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was asked at the end of his Monday presser about the Buccaneers going hard at the Cards’ two kneel-downs at the end of the game as they tried to run out the clock. Arians turned very serious. “That’s their style,” Arians said. “I have no comment on it.”

It wasn’t hard to see how Arians felt about it when watching a video of the end of the game. The Cards had two kneel-downs and QB Carson Palmer was knocked on his backside on the first (screenshot below) as the Bucs crashed in. The second was also a jumble of bodies, and Arians delivered a noticeably quick handshake to Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano — if it was a handshake — and just as the camera was about to leave him, and what looked like a Tampa assistant Arians knew tried to say good game, Arians looked like he was going to give that coach a piece of his mind too.

This, of course, isn’t the first time this has been an issue. Flash back to Schiano’s first season last year and the same thing happened with the Giants. Reaction was mixed. Schiano said Monday afternoon on his radio show (via joebucsfan.com), after a Tampa fan said he had a problem with such a play, that his players are ultimately the ones who decide to do it.

“I can say it’s misunderstood. Maybe I’m misunderstood. Who knows? But there’s a couple of things that I can tell you. No. 1, it’s an organized play. It isn’t just a mayhem of diving,” Schiano said. “Has it worked here yet in the NFL? No. Has it worked before? Sure. It’s worked or I wouldn’t do it. You know, we’ve caused several balls to be put on the ground in the past in doing this. And there’s a technique, a series of techniques that are involved.

“But most importantly, you know, I want everybody to know, our players, I ask our players, ‘if we don’t want to do this, we don’t do it.’ I mean, that’s where I am. I’m not going to force guys. Because is there’s always a risk involved? Sure. I mean there’s always a risk involved when you’re hitting other people. And I’m talking about a risk for our players.”

Schiano went on to say in a one-score game and the Bucs need just a field goal, it’s part of his team’s belief system to go after the ball. He also said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was warning the Cardinals the rush was coming.

“I’d like people to quit complaining, and that’s what we’re going to do, and get ready for it,” Schiano added.

I’m not sure I buy that Schiano’s players have the latitude to say they won’t do it, especially if Schiano is saying it’s part of the team’s belief system. The question is, what will come first: The Bucs actually creating a turnover out of it, or some player getting hurt?

KneelUse


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Considering a kickoff change

Posted by Darren Urban on December 7, 2012 – 8:01 am

Born out of the constant discussion to make the NFL safer and prevent some of the dreaded concussions that have obviously become one of the league’s top topics, there has been talk about changing the kickoff rule again — this time, taking kickoffs out of the game altogether.

Certainly, that would be a drastic measure. The idea this time comes from first-year Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. Schiano, who watched one of his Rutgers players, Eric LeGrand, become paralyzed when he was hurt on a kickoff play, devised this idea: After Team A scores, instead of a kickoff, Team A would then have the ball on its own 30-yard line (just like a kickoff now) but would be handed, essentially, a 4th-and-15 play. The team could either punt from there or go for it (which replaces the possibility of an onside kick). Fail to gain a first down would give Team B the ball wherever it ended up, just as if it had been a normal fourth down situation.

Schiano first floated the idea back in 2011 when he was still at Rutgers. It has come up again, and now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken notice. Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the NFL’s competition committee (as is Ken Whisenhunt), said he thinks the kickoff situation will be addressed the next time the committee meets in the offseason.

There is a lot to consider with this, and changing the kickoff doesn’t necessarily mean going with Schiano’s drastic move. The league has talked often about how the most recent kickoff changes — moving the ball up, in particular, and other tweaks — have changed kickoff returns. Injuries are down, but so are electrifying returns. Touchbacks are way up.

Instituting the “Schiano rule” would impact the rosters. Punters would become more important. Kickers a little less so, now needed to just kick field goals and extra points (although some teams, who have punters kicking off, already have this situation). If you are a return man who can’t handle catching a punt in traffic, your chances of making it to the NFL decrease (you wonder what would have happened to a rookie seventh-round pick named LaRod Stephens-Howling if the current kickoff rules had been in place in 2009.) Patrick Peterson would get more chances to take one back, that’s for sure.

From a pure entertainment standpoint, such a new rule would certainly create an interesting wrinkle, not to mention making every post-scoring play look like a safety just happened. It seems a little too drastic to me. But at this point, given the way the league is trying to get safer, the game is clearly evolving, and that’s not going to stop.


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