PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 11: Billy Cundiff #7 of the Baltimore Ravens kicks a field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles during their pre season game on August 11, 2011 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
ESPN does a bit of the old "He Said-She Said," when John "The Professor" Clayton takes on Ashley Fox in a debate on how good or bad the new NFL Kickoff rule has been so far in pre-season and will be in the 2011 regular season. Fox takes the "for" side and Clayton the "against" side of the 'Hot Button' debate.
While Fox wants to do whatever is necessary to protect the players, Clayton yawns when thinking of the change in rules will have on what used to be a very important part of the game. Baltimore Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff is prominently mentioned in the debate, as are his Ravens, by both sides of the equation. Cundiff tied an NFL record with 40 touchbacks on kickoffs in 2010, and that was from kicking off at the 30-yard line. The new rule has kickoffs being kicked from the 35-yard line, as if Cundiff needed those additional five yards to help him.
Unless he or the coaching staff so chooses for strategic purposes, there is no reason Cundiff can't put most, if not all of his kickoffs deep enough into or even out of the end zone to prevent returns and force the opposition to start their drives at their own 20-yard line. Statistically speaking, drives starting at the 20-yard line yield TD's at less than a 15% rate, which bodes well for the Ravens and their already dominant defense.