It’s time for the CFL to make a change to something that has quietly become a problem.
There are far too many coaches across this fine league conceding safeties on a weekly basis. It’s basically to the point where you never expect a team to punt out of their own end zone unless they have a one or two-point lead in the dying seconds of the game.
This was especially egregious during the Blue Bombers and Elks game last week when Edmonton conceded three safeties. That’s the equivalent of an unconverted touchdown just handed to the best team in the league. How is that good for anyone but Winnipeg? Those were pretty important points until a couple of late touchdowns from Andrew Harris, too.
It’s something you almost never see teams do south of the border unless it’s a blowout late. Yes, I know the Canadian field is bigger, blah, blah, blah.
While there may be some strategic advantages to giving up the two points for a slightly better field position, it’s not fun. It’s boring. That’s not what I’m about. Professional sports are supposed to be entertainment.
So, what can we do about it? That’s a good question.
Once again, it comes down to saving a naturally conservative bunch of people — football coaches — from themselves. We must make it more of a punishment to concede a safety.
One way that could be done is by simply increasing the number of points awarded for the other team for a conceded safety. Five points sounds like a good number, but I’m open to even more.
A safety created by an offensive player being tackled in the end zone would remain two points. Why? Because this is my dumb made-up rule that will never happen anyway, so we might as well go all out. But if making all safeties worth more were to make this happen, then I’d be in favour.
Alex Kirshner, formerly of Banner Society, now with the Split Zone Duo Podcast and a writer for Slate, once suggested that safeties should be worth 11 points. His points are still valid. This is basically an expansion of that idea.
But Joel, couldn’t coaches then put someone in the end zone to get tackled on third down? Yes, that would have to be considered as we know coaches will always try to find loopholes in rules meant to make their lives more difficult.
We could leave it up to the officials to decide a team was legitimately planning to go for it on third down (which is also fun) or were trying to skirt the rule. At that point, the five points could be awarded. If that seems like too much, we could just make any safety on third down worth five points.
If giving up points isn’t enough to make coaches think twice, then we’ll take away their field position, too.
After a safety, the receiving team would then have the option to either take the ball at mid-field, much like how teams can either receive or take the ball at their 35-yard line following a field goal outside of the final three minutes.
Is this problem the most important one facing the CFL? No. Am I mostly just writing something fun on a Rider bye week? Yes. Would I like to see coaches punt more from their end zone or deep in their own end? Yes.