Give ’em a Leg Up

2 of 2

For starters, how about changing the kick-out-of-bounds penalty to something a little less harsh?  I mean really, the kicker gets the heaviest penalty in the game because he kicks out of bounds?  The KICKER?  He didn’t cheap-shot anyone, he didn’t head butt or spear or take a shot at someone’s knees.  He didn’t interfere with a fair-catch or any catch by any receiver.  He simply kicked the ball out of bounds.  Nobody even had to make a tackle or block or really run very far.  How can this be the heaviest penalty?  The NFL Rule Book states:

When a kickoff goes out of bounds between the goal lines without being touched by the receiving team, the ball belongs to the receivers 30 yards from the spot of the kick or at the out-of-bounds spot unless the ball went out-of-bounds the first time an onside kick was attempted. In this case, the kicking team is penalized five yards and the ball must be kicked again.”

30 yards from the spot of the kick!?!  Instead, let’s put the ball at the 30 yard line and go from there.  That still penalizes the kicking team and the offense still gets a better deal than a touchback.  Putting the ball at the 40 for kicking the ball out of bounds is just too much for an infraction where there isn’t even any contact.

Take John Kasay for example. He was the Carolina Panthers kicker in Super Bowl 38, and one of the original members of the franchise.  Following the tying touchdown at the end of a GREAT game, he kicked the ball out of bounds.  He didn’t mean to, but it happened.  With time dwindling in the game, this gave New England the ball at their own 40 to start the drive.  Now there’s no guarantee that the Patriots would have been stopped had they taken over around their 30; they still might have kicked the winning field goal, but there’s also no guarantee that Carolina would NOT have been able to stop them.

How else could we change the rules to help out our game?  Well, basketball has the three-point shot, so why not change the points awarded for making field-goals?

  • Give only two points for field-goals up to 24 yards.  These aren’t much more than extra-points anyway, so one extra point for a gimmie should be fine.  Maybe there would be more coaches going for the touchdown on fourth and goal instead of taking two points from 20 yards out.
  • For kicks made in the 25 to 44 yard range give the standard three points.  Most professional kickers should be able to make these regularly, so that’s no change.
  • Any kick made between 45 and 49 yards gets four points, because now you’re really talking about your better kickers.
  • Anything 50 yards and over is worth five.  Not many kickers will be making a ton of five-pointers, but the Raiders might score more this way.

This could also make those last second drives even more interesting.  Do they move the ball up to take a shot at the four point kick or try for the touchdown?  Imagine the possibilities!

If these new rules were implemented, would the kickers suddenly become more valuable?  Probably the good ones, and the kickers with bigger legs would most certainly be more valuable.  I don’t see them becoming more valuable than the quarterback, but maybe more than the average punter.  At the very least, the towel boy would no longer have any room to snicker as he walks by (as Mr. Adam Sandler puts it) the Lonesome Kicker.