FanDuel - WFBC

January 13, 2014

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 49 comments

The punter injuries this weekend made me wonder why there are no punter-and-kickers in the league. Coaches would love the extra roster spot that makes possible. Since kickers are the more essential position of the two and they almost never have job security, I'd think one might learn to punt adequately so there'd be another reason to keep him around.

Also, while I'm on the subject, since punters and kickers are considered defenseless in the rules the entire time they're on the field, wouldn't it be a good idea to dress them in different colors like soccer keepers? It would look weird at first, but it would give NFL teams another uniform style to sell.

posted by rcade at 12:19 PM on January 13

there are no punter-and-kickers in the league

It seems as part of every sport's drive to specialization, the trend is in the other direction: some teams have a field goal kicker and a kick-off kicker. There's been some talk about making field goals harder to hit in the NFL; either way I think we'll continue to see the split as more teams have learned the value of kickers who provide true field position rather than just the biggest leg.

posted by yerfatma at 01:21 PM on January 13

If rosters were frozen over the course of a season, I could see coaches carving off special teams positions, but you can pick up a reasonably good kicker or punter off the street (I hear that Kluwe kid might be available) even during the playoffs.

posted by Etrigan at 01:43 PM on January 13

I'm kind of surprised that Aussie rules guys haven't been more of a thing for punters since Darren Bennett and the guy Philly used to have were in the league - they kick just as well as a punter but aren't any kind of liability for tackling.

posted by LionIndex at 02:18 PM on January 13

Le sigh.

posted by yerfatma at 02:28 PM on January 13

I just want to go on record that what the MLB has done to Alex Rodriguez is a complete travesty. Only an organization as fucked up and in denial as the MLB would pin everything on one player with circumstantial evidence and paid witnesses. It is an efficient miscarriage of justice that involves painting ONE player as the problem when by all accounts over half of all players were taking PED's not more than 10 years ago. The case made on 60 Minutes was fucking embarrassing.

posted by phaedon at 02:40 PM on January 13

Pastor Tim's church service

posted by tommytrump at 03:18 PM on January 13

Sports fans in the state of North Carolina just suffered their worst weekend ever:

Friday - the Carolina Hurricanes have their five game winning streak ended with a shutout loss. The Charlotte Bobcats also lost.

Saturday - State, Duke, Carolina and Wake Forest mens' basketball teams all lost. I believe that is the first time that all of the Big 4 teams have lost on the same day. The Charlotte Bobcats also lost.

Sunday - the Carolina Panthers suffered a pretty humiliating defeat in their first playoff game in six centuries.

posted by NoMich at 03:32 PM on January 13

The conference championship games are restricting ticket sales to their own region.

posted by rcade at 04:36 PM on January 13

No Series wins in 106 years, but hey, the Cubs have a mascot now.

posted by yerfatma at 04:56 PM on January 13

Since the Dallas Cowboys lost their chance to repeat as Super Bowl champions with a divisional round loss in 1997, the team is 136-136.

posted by rcade at 05:02 PM on January 13

I completely agree with phaedon; ARod is a choad and all, but justice is supposed to be blind. At least from what I've read, MLB acted in ways that a truly impartial arbiter would have pounced on, including not having Bud Selig testify as to why, exactly, ARod deserved an especially harsh sentence and not the smae 50 days as everyone else.

The truth is, we know why: so MLB could toss up ARod as a sacrificial lamb like they did with Bonds before, and so the Yankees would not have to pay his salary, thus freeing it up for other playees. Which is something an impartial arbiter would, again, pounce on.

And the dutiful lapdogs in the media will spin their propaganda, including telling us that ARod should just shut up and go away because it would be "better" for him/the league/the sport, with whatever hamfisted appeals to honor or unwritten code.

You can see this trend in every HoF ballot that listed no Bonds or Clemens. MLB is setting ARod up to be run out of the sport so they dont have to pay him, and will use his poor showing in the HoF voting as retroactive justification for his being run out of baseball.

posted by hincandenza at 07:06 PM on January 13

... justice is supposed to be blind ...

This isn't a court, though. It's an arbitrator hired by the league after the last one was fired because he overturned Ryan Braun's suspension.

If you're part of a large organization that creates its own internal arbitration system and binds its employees to it, and pays the arbitrator, you can't possibly expect the same objective standards and procedures as a court. And if the boss don't want to get questioned, the boss won't get questioned.

Rodriguez has access to the real courts and all the money in the world to fight for fair treatment. Barring a victory there, I look forward to his absence.

posted by rcade at 07:19 PM on January 13

Agree with everything said above about Arod. If everyone, including myself, can look past my dislike for the guy, it's hard to believe he's not getting unfairly shafted. All this PED bullshit over the past several years and they hammer this guy in this manner? Major League Baseball is a joke.

And rcade, I have said over and over, on this site, that all kicking should be done away with in pro football. Now, with the ruling that kickers are defenseless at all times? Ridiculous. Kickoffs are stupid now, with the majority going out of the end zone. If punting the ball away is necessary, bring back the days when other players on the roster assume those duties. I hate games being decided by little kickers (Janikowski not included) who, if they happen to get bumped by another player, need to be carted off the field.

posted by dyams at 07:48 PM on January 13

Now, with the ruling that kickers are defenseless at all times?

It isn't a new ruling. In a rule against hitting players in a defenseless posture, the NFL rulebook includes in the definition "a kicker/punter during the kick or during the return."

I don't see anything ridiculous about the rule. Kickers and punters should get special protection. Since the NFL is protecting receivers and quarterbacks in certain situations, it makes sense to extend that to specialists who -- with few exceptions -- are nowhere close to the size or strength of the physical behemoths on the field.

posted by rcade at 08:21 PM on January 13

My dream player is a quarterback who is also the punter and placekick holder. Then your opposition would have to take all sorts of complicated fake plays into account, knowing that the guy taking the fourth down snap is just as good at quarterbacking as the guy who handled the first three downs.

This would make extra point tries more exciting, too. My dream coach would kick for one point a third of the time, run for two points a third of the time, and fake the kick a third of the time. It would be exciting, and we would definitely average close to eight points per touchdown scored.

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:30 PM on January 13

In a rule against hitting players in a defenseless posture, the NFL rulebook includes in the definition "a kicker/punter during the kick or during the return."

Even more precisely, that definition is in a rule against hitting players in a defenseless posture in a certain way. There is no rule that a blocker cannot prevent a punter from tackling the returner; there is only a rule that the blocker cannot lay a punter the fuck out in the same way he would a gunner, whose sole job is to tackle someone and is not going to be dissuaded from doing so by a simple block.

posted by Etrigan at 08:32 PM on January 13

Rodriguez has access to the real courts and all the money in the world to fight for fair treatment.

Two things:

1) It's REALLY hard to get courts to overrule CBA-arbitration, unless it's fundamentally broken/wrong/rigged. I think ARod has about a 20% chance of this even getting past a hearing.

2) I think that ARod is legally required to attend spring training this year. If he doesn't what is to stop the Yankees from voiding the remainder of his contract for breach? I mean, he'd show up, they'd say "You're suspended for the season." and he could go home. But if he doesn't show up, I wouldn't put it past them from trying to get out from the remaining $61million...

posted by grum@work at 08:33 PM on January 13

My dream player is a quarterback who is also the punter and placekick holder.

posted by rcade at 08:37 PM on January 13

My dream player is so dreamy!

posted by Hugh Janus at 10:30 PM on January 13

I'm kind of surprised that Aussie rules guys haven't been more of a thing for punters since Darren Bennett and the guy Philly used to have were in the league - they kick just as well as a punter but aren't any kind of liability for tackling.

Here you go, mate. There's even a full time punting academy, apparently.

posted by owlhouse at 10:50 PM on January 13

My dream player is so dreamy!

Here's another helping of dreamy for you!

posted by Bonkers at 10:57 PM on January 13

Randall Cunningham hit something like a 90 yard punt once against the Giants.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 11:15 PM on January 13

Thanks for that link, owly.
Poor Anthony Rocca: Signed with the Eagles, however got homesick and returned to Australia
I know the feeling, brother. (not for Australia, never been there though I'd like to someday because I want to meet the guys in the Scientists and the guys in the Psychotic Turnbuckles and watch some cricket with them)

posted by NoMich at 06:40 AM on January 14

Randall Cunningham hit something like a 90 yard punt once against the Giants.

*bamf*
It was a 91 yard punt.
And the next time he tried he kicked an 80 yard punt.
*bamf*

posted by grum@work at 08:46 AM on January 14

That was the first time I'd ever seen a QB punt and I wondered why teams don't use the quick kick more often. Then again, Brady provided a pretty compelling counter-example. He'd be better off airing out a Hail Mary and hoping it was intercepted.

posted by yerfatma at 11:25 AM on January 14

Even if you take away that 91-yarder, he had 45.6 YPP in 1989 -- more than two yards longer than Rich Camarillo, the actual punter who's credited with the best YPP In 1989.

posted by Etrigan at 11:29 AM on January 14

Brady's done some quick kicks over the years too. Not exactly a punt but close enough so I agree its curious teams don't have their backup QB spend time practicing punts.

posted by billsaysthis at 11:58 AM on January 14

Not exactly a punt but close enough so I agree its curious teams don't have their backup QB spend time practicing punts.

Considering some of the quarterbacking done in this league, I think the last thing teams need are guys who aren't honing their one complicating craft before expanding into two.

To me, it'd be easier to draft and develop a different style of kicker (aussie rules style) who's not a total doofus when it comes to laying a guy out. Throwing quarterbacking into the mix seems a lot more complicated than throwing proper tackling in.

posted by dfleming at 12:43 PM on January 14

My dream player is a quarterback who is also the punter and placekick holder.

How about QB, place kicker and part-time LB?

posted by yerfatma at 01:08 PM on January 14

It isn't a new ruling. In a rule against hitting players in a defenseless posture, the NFL rulebook includes in the definition "a kicker/punter during the kick or during the return." I don't see anything ridiculous about the rule.

Then shouldn't they just leave the field directly after kicking? Once a kicker/punter is through his kicking motion he's not defenseless, he can defend himself by staying away from the action if he doesn't want to play football.

posted by tron7 at 02:16 PM on January 14

Once a kicker/punter is through his kicking motion he's not defenseless, he can defend himself by staying away from the action if he doesn't want to play football.

Yeah, like those wussy receivers who are in the air, or those candy-ass runners who have already been stopped -- or, the worst of them all, that wimpy non-football-playing "kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air." Again, the rule is not that punters or kickers cannot be touched at all: "(b) Prohibited contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture is: (1) Forcibly hitting the defenseless player's head or neck area with the helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder, even if the initial contact of the defender's helmet or facemask is lower than the passer's neck, and regardless of whether the defensive player also uses his arms to tackle the defenseless player by encircling or grasping him; or (2) Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/"hairline" parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body; or (3) Illegally launching into a defenseless opponent. It is an illegal launch if a player (i) leaves both feet prior to contact to spring forward and upward into his opponent, and (ii) uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/"hairline" parts) to initiate forcible contact against any part of his opponent's body. Note: This does not apply to contact against a runner, unless the runner is still considered to be a defenseless player, as defined in Article 7 above."

posted by Etrigan at 02:37 PM on January 14

Yeah, like those wussy receivers who are in the air, or those candy-ass runners who have already been stopped -- or, the worst of them all, that wimpy non-football-playing "kickoff or punt returner attempting to field a kick in the air."

Those are all defenseless positions. A kicker during the return: not a defenseless position. What about being a kicker makes him more defenseless than any other special teamer trying to cover a kick?

Wimpy, candy-ass, wussy... I mean, the sarcasm is great but I don't see how that's my side of the argument labeling them as such. The rulebook essentially implies that they're not football players if they're always considered defenseless.

posted by tron7 at 03:07 PM on January 14

Once a kicker/punter is through his kicking motion he's not defenseless, he can defend himself by staying away from the action if he doesn't want to play football.

I don't think there's any benefit to the game to seeing a punter or kicker laid out by a brutal hit. The rule just acknowledges what we all know to be true -- these specialists often lack the size and strength to handle the physical nature of the game.

Does this make them "not football players," or were they already "not football players" because their role is so limited?

Also, if you let them get lit up, some dirty players and coaches will attempt it to gain advantage. Having a kicker out of a game creates huge problems for a team. Buddy Ryan was accused of paying bounties for hits on them.

posted by rcade at 03:31 PM on January 14

What about being a kicker makes him more defenseless than any other special teamer trying to cover a kick?

Those other special teamers are trying to block and/or tackle. That's their jobs. If the punter or kicker doesn't have that protection, he will literally get his fucking neck broken out there.

posted by Etrigan at 03:56 PM on January 14

I don't think there's any benefit to the game to seeing a punter or kicker laid out by a brutal hit.

Is there benefit to other special teamers getting laid out by brutal hits? I'm not calling for unnecessary roughness towards kickers but if they want to try and tackle somebody they shouldn't get any more protection than any other player would get.

Though, if I had my way, I'd get rid of kicking altogether in football.

posted by tron7 at 04:06 PM on January 14

he will literally get his fucking neck broken out there.

That guy was trying to block and/or tackle. That's his job too. Would that hit draw a fine if it was put onto another special teamer? I'm not really sure if it would or not. The way the NFL is going right now, for better or worse, is that if you hit anyone hard you're likely to draw a penalty or fine.

posted by tron7 at 04:13 PM on January 14

... if they want to try and tackle somebody they shouldn't get any more protection than any other player would get.

As I read the rule, a punter or kicker in the act of attempting a tackle wouldn't be likely to get hit in a way that draws a penalty.

That guy was trying to block and/or tackle. That's his job too.

A job he practices. I've never heard of punters or kickers practicing blocking or tackling. Maybe there's a few trick plays where they do, and perhaps Darren Bennett did.

posted by rcade at 04:22 PM on January 14

Though, if I had my way, I'd get rid of kicking altogether in football. ... The way the NFL is going right now, for better or worse, is that if you hit anyone hard you're likely to draw a penalty or fine.

Okay, we're just not going to agree on this.

posted by Etrigan at 04:27 PM on January 14

Was that the goal?

posted by tron7 at 04:47 PM on January 14

As I read the rule, a punter or kicker in the act of attempting a tackle wouldn't be likely to get hit in a way that draws a penalty.

Any time a punter/kicker gets hit they are either tackling someone or trying to get into position to tackle someone. If a kicker gets hit completely away from the play then you have my full blessing to flag and fine.

I've never heard of punters or kickers practicing blocking or tackling.

Maybe they should. Maybe not tackling but find a way to increase their awareness as the hits that usually hurt kickers and punters are the blindside variety.

posted by tron7 at 04:54 PM on January 14

LSU punter Brad Wing was recruited from Australia, signed by the Eagles after being undrafted, and got released before the season began.

I think there's potential for punters whose skills are established in other codes, but it also means building a coverage team around them, and that's tricky when the player market is mainly comprised of conventional punters.

posted by etagloh at 07:23 PM on January 14

Any time a punter/kicker gets hit they are either tackling someone or trying to get into position to tackle someone.

Running towards someone to tackle him and tackling him are two different things. A punter or kicker is not going to get special protection initiating contact to tackle someone, even with the rule. It's the head-on-a-swivel moments where the rule would come into play.

There are lots of games where a punter or kicker gets hurt in a pileup trying to make a tackle. Flags aren't thrown.

posted by rcade at 07:44 PM on January 14

Thanks for that link, owly. Poor Anthony Rocca: Signed with the Eagles, however got homesick and returned to Australia I know the feeling, brother. (not for Australia, never been there though I'd like to someday because I want to meet the guys in the Scientists and the guys in the Psychotic Turnbuckles and watch some cricket with them)

Sounds good, take me with you. In return you can come and watch Sydney FC with me, and I'll introduce you to this guy. He once deliberately toured The Celibate Rifles through Italy during Italia 90, gigs scheduled to align with key matches.

posted by owlhouse at 07:47 PM on January 14

I love the Celibate Rifles and I love that story.

A friend of mine around these parts was in a band in which a bandmate had once set up a tour according to clubs that had decent shitters. And, of course, those clubs had open dates at wildly different times so their tour had them play Colorado one night then Texas then Missouri then New Mexico then Louisiana then Pennsylvania then Illinois.

posted by NoMich at 08:47 PM on January 14

Scientists and Celibate Rifles references? This really is the most discerning of sports discussion venues.

posted by deflated at 12:10 AM on January 15

If the punter or kicker doesn't have that protection, he will literally get his fucking neck broken out there.

Then have the punter run off the field if you don't want them to be part of the play. They could also be deemed ineligible and thus any impact they have on the end result of the return would be a penalty. But if they're an active participant defending kicks and even initiating contact, they run the risk of contact with other players. QB's lose their protection the second they become a runner - punters should lose theirs the second they stop kicking and start defending.

Terrance Garvin should've gotten a flag and did get a fine - but that would've been true no matter who he hit. It was an illegal hit.

posted by dfleming at 12:49 PM on January 15

Again, "the risk of contact with other players" is not what that rule protects kickers from. It protects them from particular forms of contact. Garvin could have "contacted" Huber in many, many ways that would not have broken the rules at all.

posted by Etrigan at 01:35 PM on January 15

Thanks to you owlhouse, there's been a bit of conversation over our love of the Celibate Rifles with some friends on my Facebook page. My favorite song by them is "Back in the Red" and the Radio Birdman influence is all over that song and now I'm listening to the first Radio Birdman album. Such great rock n roll from your country.

posted by NoMich at 10:37 PM on January 23

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