If you look closely you can see the trend developing. Big time legs brought in as an addition to the kicker. Is it going to render the need for a great return man useless? Or, is it simply a fad? I hope it's the latter.
The Cowboys had a big leg last year, and now with the signing of Rhys Loyd by the Vikings, I can see teams starting to hop on this bandwagon. The bigger question is whether this is just a fashionable trend, or a small sample of what an NFL kickoff will look like 10 years down the road. I hate to use the phrase "time will tell," but in this instance, I think it applies quite nicely.
At first glance it seems like a pretty solid idea, and a realistic one at that. Who doesn't want a guy that can boot it through the back of the end zone on every kick? You have to figure there are plenty of guys floating around that can do that, and I imagine each and every one would take a cool quarter of a million dollars to do so. Does this mean the Packers should be chomping at the bit to pick up a super-leg of their own? Again, I think the jury is still out.
Sure it's nice to not have to worry about the big return, but what exactly, if anything, are you giving up? Truth be told, it could be quite a bit. What if that kick had been on the receiving end of a game changing fumble? What if Jarrett Bush runs down and knocks the guy on his ass inside the 15? Is that momentum changing moment worth the risk of playing it safe? At this point (and mostly because the Packers don't have one) I am going to say no.
One of the best things about watching the game of football is that almost every play offers a chance for a dramatic moment. By taking away the kick return, you are essentially taking out that chance all together, not to mention removing a rich part of history from the game itself. True, you may save an injury, and you may save a touchdown, but that's hardly a fair trade for the game changers and excitement you inevitably are going to give up.
Like I said, it all boils down to the intangibles. And until some statistics come back on the risk/reward end of things I think you'll unfortunately see the trend continue. I personally think it's sad.
If Jarrett Bush ever does crush a guy someday, I want a chance to hear the roar.