Who would have ever thought New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz could be kindred spirits?
But three times in the Jets’ 13-10 loss to the New England Patriots a few weeks ago, Ryan’s Jets did not try to return a punt. They didn’t have even have a player lined up as a returner, which seemed extreme.
Ferentz said Tuesday that he is seriously considering not having Iowa return punts in future games, given how they were once again burned by a fake punt last Saturday.
I’ll believe it when I see it, but the idea may have merit. Kevin Kelley, the coach at Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Ark., would think so. Kelly usually forbids his players to return punts. He figures the odds of a fumble are greater than the odds of a long punt-return. It’s not about risk with this guy, it’s about probability.
I saw a feature on Kelley years ago on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and have always wondered why more coaches don’t accept some of his principles. His team never punts. Ever. And his team’s kickoffs after scores are always onside kicks.
Oh, his teams have won three state-championships.
I’ve long thought most coaches — Ferentz included — give up the ball too easily in some situations. It’s as if there are certain unwritten rules that bind them, and their lack of so-called “risk-taking” is actually pretty risky.