NFL’s proposed kickoff rule could hurt David Buehler
The touchback is incredibly undervalued. How much so? Well, Advanced NFL Stats determined Billy Cundiff’s 40 touchbacks in 2010 were “worth” about two points per game–the same as 20 sacks. This is one of the reasons I have been a firm supporter of David Buehler remaining on the roster whether he can kick field goals or not. His powerful leg and ability to play special teams justify a roster spot.
The NFL’s Competition Committee has proposed a rule that would move up the kickoff spot from the 30 to the 35-yard line, while also allowing teams that receive a touchback to start at their own 25-yard line. The rule is designed to discourage teams from returning kickoffs in an effort to prevent injuries.
In my opinion, this rule change would be sh*t. While the switches may seem minor, the amount of touchbacks would skyrocket. While Buehler’s touchback rate would soar to probably near 100 percent, the overall value to the Cowboys would decrease because other kickers would manage plenty of touchbacks as well. Remember, football is a zero-sum game, so what’s good for the opposition is necessarily bad for the Cowboys. The ultimate value of Buehler’s touchbacks doesn’t only come in their abundance, but rather the disparity between him and the league average. 30 touchbacks vs. 10 against is more valuable than 40 touchbacks vs. 30 against.
Actually, Buehler should be leading rallies against this proposed rule change. If it goes into effect, there’s a good chance he could lose his job. If a more accurate kicker can now kick touchbacks, why retain Buehler? For his sake, and the sake of the entire Cowboys team, let’s hope this rule gets shot down.