New rule changes won't happen overnight and more in the mailbag
That's because there is a big difference between implementing a rule that changes a strategy devised by coaches and one that places restrictions on what an individual player has been conditioned to do since he began playing the game as a youngster. In other words, the changes related to onside kick alignments and wedge formations are easy to make because they just won't be used anymore by special teams' coaches. The "
The elimination of the three- and four-man wedge on kickoff returns was long overdue. That scheme effectively
Most casual fans don't know much about the wedge because their eyes are following the ball as the returner makes his way up the field. What they don't see is a three- or four-man mass of humanity running in unison for up to 30 yards, with the sole purpose being to not get split or allow any seepage from a member of the opposition's kicking unit. Meanwhile, the linebacker-types on the kickoff team gather up 50 yards of steam before attempting to burst through or bust up the wedge. It's akin to a tank running into a couple of humvees, and it's seldom pretty, so this change is absolutely for the better.
The Ward and Brady rules represent a type of re-engineering that won't easily happen overnight. Blindside blocks, like the one delivered by Ward on Bengals linebacker
Mail time ...
I got a boatload of e-mails like this one. It is actually pretty easy to get a rise out of the readers, and I must say I enjoy that to some extent, but I can tell you that was not my intention.
Everyone seems to forget I was a huge fan of the NFL way before I realized, much to my surprise, that I had been blessed with the natural physical gifts to potentially play in the league. I understand where you are coming from Jason and I would have expressed the same sentiment if I were looking at things from your perspective.
But I'm not. I made a living playing professional football. I stand by my claim that most players do not have a whole lot of interest in adjusting the rules in a manner that adds more plays and, as a result, more physical harm. They just don't. Much like adding more games, everything is always negotiable, but greater risk should entail greater compensation, no matter the profession or pay scale.
Misinformation is a huge part of life in the NFL in the weeks leading up to the draft for the exact reasons you mentioned, Keith. You have to take any report and any source with a grain of salt at this point because they all have their reasons for disseminating certain information. It is one reason mock drafts are so difficult to do and take at face value.
It really works both ways as some teams will spread the word that they are really high on a player in order to get other people to think they want to select him, even if deep down they secretly are not interested at all. It will happen more and more as we get closer to the draft.
Any information carries some value, Ryan, and the combine's primary purpose these days is to allow the teams to perform all of their medical due-diligence at the same place as opposed to having players fly all over the country for MRI's, X-rays, and doctor visits. It also lets the teams get to know the players a little bit personally while standardizing the physical testing results across the board.
That's a fair point, Sebastian. Still, many regard Cutler as the most talented young quarterback in the league, and the idea that a team would just call Denver out of the blue and ask if he was available seems a little far-fetched. Especially since more than 10 teams have supposedly called the Broncos now that there is a decent chance Cutler might get traded. If they thought there were any chance before this drama unfolded, they would have called earlier.
I can tell you that a lot of players have the same questions and concerns, Steve, and one of