NEW KICKOFF RULE NO REASON TO STOP COACHING
INDIANAPOLIS – It is not that he does not care. It is only that he must coach a football team and time spent not doing that is time wasted.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell is a man of details and one of the truisms he observes habitually is, 'Take care of the little things and the big things take care of themselves.'
Caldwell busies himself in preparing his football team to play, and that means every player.
New rules are introduced to the league almost every year. One such new rule this year is having teams kickoff from the 35-yard line rather than the 30-yard line from previous seasons. Also, coverage unit members must be in contact with the 30-yard line stripe prior to the kickoff.
The new rules are to provide safety for players. One of the net results is more touchbacks. Another is kicks being returned from the end zone. Caldwell and other coaches are being asked if the rules could impact how rosters are structured if there is a decrease in the number of returns.
Rather than spent time complaining or critiquing, Caldwell adapts and coaches – he keeps his eye on the ball.
"I'm always one who doesn't complain about anything because it doesn't matter," said Caldwell. "It doesn't matter what I think. The rule is in place, but what I'd better do is find out a way to use it to our advantage and try to win ball games. That's really how I look at everything. I told you a story about my dad (recently). My father never complained about a thing (in the many years that he worked). I think I've taken on a lot of his traits, and that's one that I appreciate. It doesn't matter what I think, really, it's the way it is and what we have to do is adjust to it.
"I do think that it (kickoff rule) was put in place for a reason, for safety, and it appears that there are fewer kickoffs returned in some games, but then I heard there was another game the other night where there was not one touchback in the game. I think the intent of the rule is good and we always have to just adjust to it."
In the club's first preseason game at St. Louis, all three of the club's kickoffs reached the end zone, with one resulting in a touchback. Six out of seven Rams kickoffs reached the end zone, resulting in two touchbacks. Against Washington, the Colts had touchbacks on both kickoffs, while the Redskins produced four in five attempts.
When queried if teams in preseason were intentionally kicking off shorter so an evaluation of personnel were possible, Caldwell said, "I think, obviously that's been said, it's not anything that's different, but there are a lot of people trying to do different things to try to get that solved."
Caldwell said there has been no specific instruction to his kickers to this point other than 'kick it away.' He thinks the number of opportunities to evaluate personnel still will exist.
"(We) kick it away because for the most part, people are going to bring that out," he said. "They are going to take them and bring it out from about four or five yards deep. So you're going to get a chance to see what you want to see. I don't think you necessarily have to manipulate it but if we felt like we had to manipulate it, then we may look at it, too.
"I do think that a lot of people are also trying different things. Some of them are trying to kick it short, some of them are trying to kick it on the ground. There are a lot of different things that people are trying to do to test it out a little bit and see what works best."
When asked if the change would impact his roster structure, Caldwell notes he believes kickoff returns very much will be a part of a 16-game season.
"You're making an assumption that there's going to be a real reduction in returns, but I do believe that at some point in time, whether that's at the end of the season or you're (playing) outdoors, that you're going to see some of those balls coming back at you, and you're going to really need to have good coverage teams," he said. "Also, you're going to need good return men as well. I don't think it's going to affect us that much."