Bears, fans biggest losers with new kickoff rules

I agree with Devin Hester. This is ridiculous.

The NFL voting to move kickoffs up to the 35-yard line makes more than Bears games less exciting. It sucks the drama out of the most unpredictable play of the game for every team and everybody who loves America's most popular sport.

The Bears rely on field position and kickoff returns more than most offenses so naturally they are among the most affected. Lovie Smith reacted like somebody made fun of Big Sandy. Seldom have I heard Smith sound that animated opposing something that wasn't a creation of the media.

Smith knows this puts even more pressure on his offense, and he has been in Chicago long enough to know what that traditionally means. Jay Cutler became even more important, the offensive line even a bigger concern. The rule change magnifies every concern the Bears had about their biggest weakness.

Smith routinely invokes the need for all three phases. The third phase was the method the Bears used to keep up with the Packers. Now? It's more like the need to perform all 2 2/3 phases. It's a subtle but significant difference.

But do you know who I really feel for? It's not Hester, Danieal Manning or Johnny Knox. It's not the guys with open-field running skills. The Bears can find ways to incorporate Hester more in the slot as their No. 3 receiver that fits him and Knox can concentrate more on getting open. They have speed and ability that always will make them roster locks.

The guys I pity are the guys who make the team based on their coverage skills, the kamikaze players who run down on kickoffs with reckless abandon. The Tim Shaws and Cameron Worrells of Bears seasons past. Those guys just got even fewer plays in which to make an impression or an impact.

It's bad for them. It's worse for the fans.

The league wants to preserve safety. A presentation pointed out that players are four times more likely to have head and neck injuries on kickoffs than any other play. I get it. The cynic in me also wonders if the owners were more motivated to make this show in the name of safety to show concern not evident in proposals for an 18-game season.

But the game just got duller. And the Bears just got worse.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag

    Dan Pompei's Bears mailbag

    The Tribune's Bears columnist answers questions weekly. This week: Cutler's rehab, drafting an Illini and the 1985 Bears.

  • Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    The Lolla schedule is sort of like the NCAA tournament: there are millions of possible combinations, and it’s anyone’s guess what the winning picks will be. With that in mind, we make some bold predictions about how this year’s fest (returning to Grant Park Fri.-Sun.) will turn out. Breakout artist...

  • 2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    The man on trial in the killing of Chicago police Officer Thor Soderberg hated police and surprised the officer as he changed out of his uniform at shift end and placed his duty belt down, a Cook County prosecutor alleged Monday.

  • Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Chicago aldermen on Monday called on police officials to provide information on how quickly rape kits are being tested by the state crime lab, part of a largely symbolic effort to determine whether a large backlog is hampering work to apprehend rapists.

  • Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    A South Side alderman's effort to tweak filmmaker Spike Lee for using "Chi-raq" as the title for a movie about Chicago violence fell flat Monday with his colleagues.

  • ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    Commonwealth Edison will hold energy fairs at satellite locations across the region Monday in order to get money to thousands of people struggling to pay their electricity bills in northern Illinois.

  • PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    These adorable pups are on the loose looking for a place to call home. They have a warrant out for their arrest. Their crime? Being irresistibly cute and cuddly. If you're interested in adopting any of these dogs, please visit www.pawschicago.org for more information.

  • Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    Wabash Lights exceeds Kickstarter goal, hopes to begin test this fall

    The designers of an ambitious plan to install colorful LED lights on the underside of the Wabash Avenue "L" tracks raised almost $60,000 in a Kickstarter campaign that will allow them to move forward with a test of the project.

Comments
Loading

77°