I'm not sure how I missed it. But, it wasn't until I was watching the game last Sunday that I realized the NFL had moved the touchback line. After a kickoff goes for a touchback, instead of bringing the ball out to the 20, the team would get it at the 25. That seemed like a lot. As I watched the game, I noticed that not very often did the teams run the ball out that far. It turns out that the Patriots counted on this. Instead of booming the kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, they kicked it short to encourage/require the Cardinals to run it back. It was a field position game that was easy to play. Especially on the last drive when a return short of the 20 combined with a penalty to start the potential game-winning drive inside the 10 yard line. You may remember that those extra 15 yards were probably kinda important. I saw articles this week wondering if other teams would copy the Patriots strategy of kicking the ball short.
Well duh. Why wouldn't they?
It seemed like such an obvious call. Even in years past, how often did a return go past the 25 yard line? Why would you assume your team can't stop the other team before then? Is it because they don't have the special teams that the Patriots do? Is it because they don't draft good special teams players?
Maybe they should.
After all, another draft choice the Patriots were laughed at over was selecting a long snapper. Who drafts a long snapper. But, I bet the Cardinals wish they had a really good long snapper on their team Sunday night. Again, it seems so obvious. So many times a game comes down to a field goal attempt. Those attempts need a long snapper. Why not have a good one?
Is it Belichick's cache? Can other coaches not afford the ridicule that would come with drafting a guy just for special teams? Is this where that first championship really did change everything? If Bill doesn't have a ring, can he not get away with drafting special teamers from Rutgers, or with stonewalling the media?
(Another thing I don't understand people not copying. Why on earth would you tell anyone how badly a player is hurt, or where, or how good he is, or what his weaknesses are? How does that help your team? Why do other coaches let that information freely flow?)
Whatever the reason, I don't get it. Sure, Belichick's a coaching genius. Sure, he comes up with ideas before everyone else. But, once other teams have seen the value in a Matthew Slater who makes the pro bowl every year just for his special teams play, why don't they go get one? Can't they show their fan base, or media, or owner, or whomever would give them a hard time that it works? Can't they say, "see...that guy drafted a return specialist and he beats us every year. It works like a charm." Isn't the NFL supposed to be a copycat league?
Why aren't they copying the best ever?
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