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Mailbag: Use someone else to kick off?


With the new kickoff rule, wouldn't it be wise to use a safety or gunner to kick the ball? Hang time is not an issue, so just have him kick line drives? – Russell Phillips/Amarillo, TX

Nick Eatman: I can't say I'm with you on that at all. I know what you're saying when it comes to hang time but part of this comes down to strategy. There will be actual plays and formations run off of this. If the ball isn't kicked where it needs to be, then it messes everything up. Just think about when you would go out and try to kick the ball in the yard. Sometimes it might be a good kick but other times could be awful. You need someone who knows how to kick and can practice these different kicks over and over. Yes, hang-time isn't as important but direction is. And there are times when kicking it deep is the way to go. So I'm sticking with a kicker.

Kurt: I have to admit, I'm intrigued by your thinking. In some ways you're right because no players on either team can move until the ball either touches the ground or a player in the landing zone, which is the area between the receiving team's 20-yard line and it's goal line. There's really no need to worry about hang time. Then there is the fact that most kickers don't provide much in the way of tackling, so having an 11th true defender out there sure would be nice, especially with the new kickoff alignments. Ah, but here's the problem. Any kick that bounces short of the landing zone is treated like a kickoff out of bounds and is spotted at the receiving team's 40. Any kick that sails into the end zone comes out to the 30. Meaning, your kicker does need to be accurate enough to boot the ball within that 20-yard landing zone. Can a gunner or safety be trusted to do that? Consider, too, that coaches will also be asking their kickers to place the ball to the right or left of the hashmarks, similar to punters, in order to shorten the receiving team's field. So while it's an interesting idea and, you never know, might at least be considered by some teams, there is more to this than just line-driving kicks down the field.

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