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NFL owners say goodbye to the wedge

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Don't worry all you rabbit food eaters, the owners didn't mean wedge salads. Although, I've had some wedge salads that should be said goodbye to, but I digress. No, the wedge I'm referring to is not the kind pictured to the left, but the one where a wall of really big linemen, preferably 300 pounds or more, stand in front of a kick returner and absorb hits from "coverage players" who have built up steam attempting to break through blockers and level the returner. This tactic has become so successful that many special teams coaches are predicting burning the midnight oil trying to come up with alternate schemes:

"Most everybody runs a three or a four, and has for years," said Bills special teams coach Bobby April, whose units annually rank near the top of the NFL. "I told my wife, with these rules I just added a lot more work hours because we run that and we've run that for a long time and been successful with it. It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of ingenuity to come up with a different offense, because basically a kickoff return is an offensive play.

In Mike Reiss's article, quoted and linked above, he brings up an interesting point - the need for large linemen on special teams may have diminished. The more probable special teams guy will be a faster, lighter player who can play man-to-man coverage:

While some teams might still have a couple of bigger linemen leading the returner as part of a two-man wedge, all three coaches anticipate that kickoff return teams will now feature more players with a different body type. Thus, there is likely to be a trickle-down effect in how head coaches determine their 45-man game-day rosters - a backup lineman who might be in the wedge could turn out to be a luxury that is no longer feasible.

"Now you could be eliminating them," O'Brien said. "You could find a lot more smaller athletes on the field both ways because they're one-on-one and you have to be able to play in space. I think it will create a little more excitement that way in terms of the matchups we have on the field."

What do you think?