Questions for readers: Would you prefer that we post the stories we write for the paper here? Do you go to the main Sun-Times sports page to read about the Bears or do you just check the blog?
Anyway, this appeared in Wednesday's editions. I thought it was interesting. Hopefully, you will as well.
IRVING, Texas --- Bears special teams coach Dave Toub's kickoff- and kickoff-return units can relax --- until the postseason, if the Bears make it next season.
NFL owners did not vote to extend the playoff overtime rule for the entire regular season during a one-day meeting highlighted by the 2014 Super Bowl being awarded to New York/New Jersey, making that game the first cold-weather Super Bowl in history.
"It was pitched as let's address the most pressing problem, which is you don't want somebody's season to end prematurely without giving them the chance to score if it's an overtime situation," said Bears chairman Michael McCaskey. "It's a little tricky to all of a sudden say we want to do it for the regular season. Teams want to reflect on it and see what happens in the playoffs with it."
The new rule was passed by a vote of 28-4 at the March owners' meetings and is in effect in the postseason only. The rule gives possession to the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime if the team that wins the toss successfully kicks a field goal on the first possession of the extra period. Statistics that showed that since 1994 teams that won the coin toss won overtime games 59.8 percent of the time and the winner of the toss won the game on the first possession 34.4 percent of the time helped sway owners.
There seemed to be growing sentiment, especially among coaches, to extend it to the regular season for consitency's sake.
"If we end up doing it for the regular season I'm definitely OK with that," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "If something is good for the postseason why not put it in play even in preseason so we have a chance to work on it there?"
Said Toub last week, "I just would be surprised if they don't do it during the regular season. You play the whole season and all of a sudden there are new rules for the playoffs?"
Toub was preparing his kickoff and kickoff-return units for the possibility of the rule being adopted for the regular season at a recent minicamp. He's convinced teams will who kick a field goal on the first possession of overtime will be tempted to kick the ball onside because the game would end if the kicking team recovered it.
It makes sense, especially since the opposing team would still have to score a touchdown to win the game outright if the kicking team failed to recover the ball. A field goal would only extend overtime, so field position isn't as big of a factor as it would be if a field goal could win the game.
Toub doesn't want to put a hands-only team on the field because it would make it more difficult to have a good return if the ball is kicked deep.
"Those guys will be crowding the 40-yard-line a little bit more and just being aware and trying to take it away by alignment," he said. "You want to let them know that you know there's a possibility of an onside kick."
An onside kick is also something Toub would consider in that situation, especially because kicker Robbie Gould excels at them.
"Robbie has really developed a variety of kicks, which is good," Toub said. "He's probably got three to four kicks he can do at any one time that are surprises and are reliable."
Team president Ted Phillips said the Bears were undecided on the issue of implementing the rule for the regular season and wanted to have more internal discussions on the matter as well as talks with other owners.
McCaskey admitted that it's unusual to have a rule for the postseason that doesn't apply to the regular season.
"There's a certain sense of that but at the same time the drama of sudden death is appealing so you balance those back and forth," he said.
As it now stands, the Bears would have to make the playoffs to test Toub's strategy.
"If they vote them in for the regular season we'd be fine with that," Smith said. "If not, we'll deal with it when we have to."