Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Touchdowns from the chesterfield

By Calvin Daniels
Sometimes you just have to smile when you realize for the most part the powers that be in the Canadian Football League are working toward making the game even more exciting.
The League has announced its Board of Governors are considering a number of rules changes, changes already approved by the league's rules committee.
The most interesting, a potentially exciting of the moves would give the coaches the green light to use so called "wildcat" formations that would move the quarterback around, instead of requiring him to stand behind or under centre.
In a league already as wide open as the CFL is offensively, the idea of diversifying formations for the quarterback is tantalizing as a way to create new opportunities for the offence.
While generally the new formations might amount to a few specialty plays in a game, it will create some unusual sets which defences will need to adjust too. The more a defence has to change its normal coverages, the more likely a receiver or running back will be sprung for a gain.
The change will be an excellent addition to the CFL, in particular for the more non-traditional head coaches and offensive coordinators, those willing to switch things up, and go a little wild.
The new formations will also tend to favour mobile quarterbacks, those who are already adept at being creative,
It would have been great for a QB such as Doug Flutie, who would have no doubt been even more elusive and successful with a few more play sets in his repertoire.
Of the current set of pivots in the league, someone such as Kerry Joseph could benefit, although we saw last season how ineffective he was in Toronto where the idea of razzle-dazzle on offence was to go to the shotgun formation.
Given a bit more flare on offence, Joseph could be a huge fan of the so-called 'wildcat' formations in a hurry.
Two other rule changes up for consideration focus on the kicking game, although neither eliminates the silly one-point awarded on a missed field goal, which remains perhaps the dumbest scoring rule in all of sports.
What the changes could do is see a bit more focus on actually football plays rather than kicks.
The first idea is to move back the kick-off following a safety touch, to reduce the number of times a team chooses to take a knee in its own end zone.
OK that one is pretty straight forward, and makes sense without changing much in terms of the game. It basically means we might see a few more run-outs on kicks to the end zone, although maybe not as many as those calling for the change think. It's still a risk that you could end pinned inside the 10 if you chance to run it out, and a kick even from the 25-yard line is still going to be considered a better option in most cases by most coaches.
Another change would require a team that kicks a successful field goal to then kick off to its' opponents, increasing the number of kick returns,
Here is another solid decision, since returns are potentially one of the most exciting plays in the game, so anything which adds a few more to a game, is generally positive.
The fourth recommendation would awarding a team a third challenge of an official's ruling using instant replay if its' first two challenges are successful.
While this one seems logical. How many times do we want a ref under the hood reviewing tape? The league should have more confidence in its official than to want to add more reviews to the system.
It is positive that all four proposed rule changes were suggested by CFL fans as for the first time the League called for suggestions from the people that matter most. Fans responded with some 2,000 suggestions suggesting CFL lovers want to be involved in their game.
"We tend to look at our game like a precious stone that has been in the family for generations: we're willing to put a new shine on it, but we strive to be very careful not to damage it," said Tom Higgins, the CFL's director of officiating and a member of the rules committee in a release. "We feel the rule changes we've discussed today can improve an already great product, and now the final say rests with our board."
Higgins is right, the moves are generally good, made more interesting in that they came from the fans. Just let's hope the Governors are wise enough to implement the changes for the upcoming season

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