Wedge Rule Raises Questions

Every year the NFL tinkers a bit with the game's rules, often as a means of limiting the types of violent collisions inherent in this ultra-physical game. Often, those changes create some controversy (Are quarterbacks babied to the point of being encased in bubblewrap?), and sometimes they clearly improve the game.

One rule change for this fall is creating quite a stir among special teams coaches, leaving some scratching their heads. No longer can teams employ wedges of more than two players on kickoffs, something that strikes at the heart of the scheme of most NFL clubs, the Redskins included. The days of four 300-pounders linking arms to squash a wedge-buster are over, but there is some wiggle room in the matter.

According to the NFL Competition Committee: "An illegal wedge is defined as three or more players lined up shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other." Two yards. That's the key. Because as special teams coaches around the league chatter, it's becoming obvious that they could still utilize essentially a four-man wedge just by stationing the two outside players just over two yards off the two-man wedge in the middle.

And, essentially, all could come together at contact, as long as they were apart while the wedge moved upfield. Sounds like it will be very tricky for on-the-field officials to judge in real time, and players and coaches aren't sure how much of a difference the change will make.

"I don't think it's going to protect guys as much as they think is going to happen," said Skins special teams ace Rock Cartwright. "We'll see what happens in the preseason. All we can do is wait to see how it plays out."

Cartwright said coaches have explained the change, but will focus on it more during training camp. Coaches are a little wary of devoting too much time to certain schemes, only to find out that, once they begin popping up in preseason games, the NFL decides to make the two-yards-apart, quasi-four-man-wedge illegal as well. Cartwright said the Skins tried some of the two-yard wedge stuff during mini-camp, just to get an initial feel for it.

"We haven't put too much emphasis on it yet," he said.

Overall, however, Cartwright isn't sure that the league can legislate all of these collision-type injuries out of the game. Player responsibility looms large, in terms of taking proper angles, maintaining leverage and not leaving oneself vulnerable, he said.

"It all depends on the player, too," Cartwright said. "The player needs to protect himself and not take on people square. If two linemen are trying to get through, you have to get lower. The player has to be smarter, too."

By Jason La Canfora  |  May 27, 2009; 10:37 AM ET
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Comments

first

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 27, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

talent_evaluator

"...but I don't think that he killed Mora. If Mora died, wasn't it suicide?"


Jim Mora, jr. spelled backwards is 'nepotism.'

Nothing against the guy.

I just wish sometimes my dad had been good at something other than getting my mom pregnant and evading the police.

That way, I could step into a high paying, cushy job and say things like, "Hey, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps--stop the affirmative action, good ol' boy network chatta!!!"

His dad, Jim Mora, sr., was a good coach in Nawlins back in the day.

Rememba the linebackers the saints had during that time:

Pat Swilling

Ricky Jackson

Sam Mills

That was one heckuva group.

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 27, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 27, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

i don't see it limiting collisions at all. things might be more dangerous b/c it sound like creating a larger area for the high speed violent collisions to occur. If you space out the wedge by two yards per player, but they still act as a wedge you'll see bodies flying all over the place into people.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 27, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to attack DikShuttle with an army.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | May 27, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"Anonymous sources that are familiar with situations like to be familiar with the situation while speaking on a condition of anonymity", said a source familiar with the situation who spoke on a condition of anonymity.

~ JLC

Posted by: jmicrodoc | May 27, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Did Dwight contribute? Of course he did, but I think you're exaggerating his contribution.

The Magic connceted on 17 three-poniters last night -- out of 38.

Last nights win by the Magic showed exactly what they are: A team that plays it's best when playing on the perimeter and are knocking down shots and in doing so that opens up things for Dwight Howard."

Posted by: RedDMV

Nah Red, I think you've misconstrued the situation there. It wasn't his 3-point shooters that opened up the paint for Howard, it was Howard that opened up the floor for his 3-point shooters. Within the first 6 minutes of the 1st quarter, Howard already had 11 points. Cleveland simply can't defend him down low with committing 2, sometimes 3 defenders to him. Nor can any of their big men gurad Howard off the pick and roll. And that, above anything else, is the reason you see Orlando's 3-pt % being so high. It's not like they have 4 Chris Paul's on the court. Yet somehow, they always seem to have an open 3-pt shot. It almost never fails. Don't you wonder why that is?

Posted by: psps23 | May 27, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

T_E, Huh? not too worried. whuddeva. Just trying to make sense (I know, what am I doing here, then).

& Larry - the Mexico reference is for Vick's non de pleume (s to tha SJKing p?) when he ordered his herpes medication: Ron Mexico.

Posted by: DikShuttle | May 27, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Not to micromanage the game or anything.

Posted by: SMACK1 | May 27, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

duhh - I meant Truth. Srry T_E.

Posted by: DikShuttle | May 27, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Gary Fitzgerald says Mike Williams is down to 385 as of yesterday.

Posted by: skinfanman | May 27, 2009 11:11 AM

Williams 1 - Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits 0

Posted by: AntonChigurh | May 27, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Just what needed more tackle rules!

The NFL is becoming a Joke!
These rules it's not football it's entertainment.
It use to be a gladiator tuff guy game.
Now it's Las Vegas..

Posted by: shamken | May 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

note to Cleveland: If you're going to be a one-man team, that one man had better be a center. No offense to Lebron, but if Jordan couldn't do it by himself, than LBJ can't either.

Posted by: Original_etrod | May 27, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

smack, I believe the term you are looking for is in the following exchange:

Michael: Here's what's going to happen. I am going to have to fix you, manage you two on a more personal scale, a more micro form of management. Jim, what is that called?
Jim: Microgement.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1 | May 27, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

"Truer words have yet to be spoken. If you can't move him off the block, then he's gonna have a great game. Perkins was able to move him around in the low post, which is why he wasn't as effective vs. Boston. Ilgauskgus, can't get him off the block, so he can get inside.

Posted by: BeantownGreg1"

And therein lies the rub. How many big men in the league have the (1) strength to keep Howard out of the paint, AND (2) the agility to keep Howard from moving around him?

IMO, there's one. Possibly 2, if he gets seasoned. Perkins is that man, and he's a large reason why Boston was such a force defensively last season. Few centers in the league are as useful on the block as he. The only other guy I can think of is Andrew Bynum, but Bynum still seems too raw to trust, and seems to draw fouls too quickly. After those two, there's nobody that can keep Howard out of the paint (actually, Brendan Haywood has done a decent job in recent years, but hasn't played him in about 15 months).

It's easy enough to say 'keep Howard out of the paint', it's exponentially more difficult to execute it. Last night demonstrated it perfectly, where on 3 separate occasions in OT Howard abused Varejao from about 7 feet away from the basket, and simply backed him down to the point where all Howard had to do was turn and dunk the ball.

He's approaching early Shaq-like phyhsical dominance in the league. And if he continues to hit his free throws, watch out.

And this, of course, is still just talking about his offensive game. In fact, by far his biggest impact comes on the other end.

Posted by: psps23 | May 27, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"note to Cleveland: If you're going to be a one-man team, that one man had better be a center. No offense to Lebron, but if Jordan couldn't do it by himself, than LBJ can't either.

Posted by: Original_etrod"

Exactly. I don't care if Lebron averages 50, 12, and 10 a night. He will never have the impact a dominant center or big man will have. So while Lebron may be the better "player", the dominant big man will always be more valuable.

Posted by: psps23 | May 27, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

See Miami championship

Posted by: DikShuttle | May 27, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

"note to Cleveland: If you're going to be a one-man team, that one man had better be a center. No offense to Lebron, but if Jordan couldn't do it by himself, than LBJ can't either.

Posted by: Original_etrod "

yeah, cause umm...Jordan umm...never won anything? WTF?

Posted by: TheTruth11 | May 27, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

"Exactly. I don't care if Lebron averages 50, 12, and 10 a night. He will never have the impact a dominant center or big man will have. So while Lebron may be the better "player", the dominant big man will always be more valuable.

Posted by: psps23 "

you forgot to add "in my opinion" at the end of this.

Posted by: TheTruth11 | May 27, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

original_etrod

"...note to Cleveland: If you're going to be a one-man team, that one man had better be a center..."

The other note to Clevelend is, did you fire the guy who said it was okay to let Carlos Boozer leave as easily as he did a few years ago?

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 27, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Wonder how long Dwight Howard would last as a wedge-buster?

Just trying to consolidate the disparate and disrupt the inconsolable.

You'll curse me now but thank me later.

Yeah, sure, things are slow in the NF of L. But us old gits remember back when you only talked fubbal Sept thru December.

Posted by: TheCork | May 27, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

....and do you think the NBA marketing guys are sweating at the prospect of an Orlando v. Denver Finals?

They were hoping for LeBron v. Kobe and might wind up with Howard v. Melo.

Classic.

Posted by: MistaMoe | May 27, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

beedey beedey beeps, Buck.

...Erin Grey... achlchclchlcmmmmmm

Posted by: DikShuttle | May 27, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

sounds like it will be very interesting to see kickoffs and see how the blockers adapt to the new rule, might open up more lanes.

a wedge buster running into 2 guys does seem a LITTLE safer, because you can avoid at the last second easier.

Posted by: pabrian2003 | May 27, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

This is very good!
http://www.nowgoal.com/22.shtml

Posted by: suesue8709 | May 28, 2009 5:28 AM | Report abuse

It's funny that Cartwright was interviewed for this post because I see this rule leading to him being cut this year.

He's a decent return man, nothing more, and gives you nothing on offense, you have to look for more and the two speed backs we're bringing to camp as well as D. Thomas give you more.

Plus, Rocks style is to tuck behind the wedge, hope something opens up and find the hole. If he doesn't have a wedge of 4 he's not going to create his own lane by making a few moves and hitting a hole fast. He's essentially useless without a wedge.

Posted by: 6-2StackMonster | May 28, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

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