In Thursday night’s preseason opener between the Ravens and the Eagles, six of seven kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. And so Baltimore coach John Harbaugh (who spent years as a special-teams coordinator) isn’t a fan of the new rule that moves the kickoff point from the 30 to the 35.
“[I]t was just a yawner,” Harbaugh said Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun. “I wasn’t very impressed with it the first week.”
Harbaugh also doesn’t necessarily buy the notion that moving the kickoff point will make kickoff returns safer. “We’ve done a lot of homework on that and what causes the concussions in our building,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll be looking forward to the offseason and share some of that with the Competition Committee.”
Meanwhile, Harbaugh thinks that the new rule could actually increase the risk of injury on kickoffs, if teams decide to try to do more than simply settle for a touchback. By kicking the ball high and dropping it inside the 10, the receiving team could end up trapped inside the 20.
“I think teams will do that,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re coming from the 35-yard line, you are on top of that returner. It is scary how fast you can be on top of that returner. So, I think teams are going to try to drive pop it up inside the 10 and see if they can go smash the returner inside the 15. That will definitely be a strategy.”
Regardless of whether the kicking team opts for a touchback or successfully pins the opponent inside the 20, it will definitely contribute to a reduction in scoring.
And that will make for a lot more yawning.