Harbaugh: Kickoff Rules A ‘Yawner’

John Harbaugh doesn’t necessarily believe the new rules make the game safer.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, August 14th, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

Count John Harbaugh among those who aren’t a fan of the new kickoff rules.
The Ravens and Eagles combined for six touchbacks in seven attempts last Thursday night with kickoffs now being booted from the 35-yard line instead of the 30.
“It was just a yawner,” Harbaugh said. “I wasn’t very impressed with it in the first week.”
The former special teams coach openly declared that kicker Billy Cundiff will not continue booming touchbacks throughout the preseason because the Ravens want to practice their kickoff return.
“We’re not going to go through the whole season kicking touchbacks,” Harbaugh said. “That would be foolish.”
The thought is, with more touchbacks and thus fewer returns, there would be fewer injuries – such as concussions.
But the head coach is not convinced it will be safer because teams can pooch the ball near the goal line or directionally kick it into the corners, and with their coverage men starting at the 35-yard line can pounce on the opposition.
“It is scary how fast they get on top of that returner,” Harbaugh said. “So, I think teams are going to try to pop it up inside the 10 and see if they can go smash the returner inside the 15. That will definitely be a strategy.”
He was asked whether that would negate the player safety.
“Yeah, I think that is an issue,” Harbaugh said. “Yes.”
Former Pro Bowl special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo is also not a fan of the new rules, and he’s one of the players careening down the field. Ayanbadejo said it’s really changing the game.
“It’s my favorite play in football. The kickoff is where I make my living, my bread and butter. So, I’m kind of sad to see the ball moved up to the 35-yard line,” he said.
“Hopefully, this rule will only last a year and the competition committee will throw it out next year. I’ll be up in Ozzie [Newsome's] ear about it.”
Newsome is part of the competition committee that recommended the change to owners. Although it’s not known which way the Ravens’ General Manager voted on it, it’s something Baltimore looks to re-address next offseason.
“We’ve done a lot of homework on that and what causes the concussions in our building,” Harbaugh said. “We will be looking forward to the offseason to kind of share some of that with the competition committee.”

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