If you were one of the many people dismayed with all the touchbacks on kickoffs around the NFL this weekend, you weren't alone. Plenty of coaches also disliked the rule, with the Chicago Bears even going so far as to ignore the rule and kick from the 30-yard line twice against the Bills (though strategically, doing so was clearly to their detriment). Then there's Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who hates the new rule because he can't figure out who on the team can cover and who can't.
"It hurts us in our evaluation of our guys that can cover," DeCamillis said. "Part of what hurt us last year, in my opinion, is we have a lot of young guys and we got a lot of touchbacks in the preseason last year so we didn’t have as a good a feel for who’s going to be able to cover. I think that's got to be part of our evaluation. You got to find those guys that are able to do that."
And man oh man, do the Cowboys need to find guys who are able to do that. You may remember the team's special teams coverage last year, or you may not remember it because you blocked it out due to trauma. According to Jaime Aron of the AP, the Cowboys allowed 24.3 yards per return last season. But if that doesn't quite register with you, I'll just remind you of Marc Mariani's return in the Titans game last year that led to Tennessee's win and you can go back to putting your head between your knees.
In a way, this new rule helps the Cowboys immensely. Because if your kickoff coverage is terrible, can't it only improve matters if they, you know, don't have to cover? But I think DeCamillis could be worried because of this: What if the NFL decides to change the rule back before the season begins? Imagine them seeing the complaints, fixing the rule, and then leaving DeCamillis with little insight as to who is best equipped to help cover from the old distance. What then? ANARCHY, that's what.
A lot of times, preseason roster changes are already a fait accompli. Coaches may say they don't know yet who's making the roster, but they usually do. But this year is different. There's less time to evaluate players, and there are entirely new rules that change how you evaluate those players and how they fit into your scheme. It's not an easy task. It may be impossible, and Joe DeCamillis would like the league to know that.
Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW Sports on Facebook, Blue Star Blog on Twitter @BlueStarBlog, or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe to this free service. Read more about it here.