Now if the NFL were to lets say make the kickoff like a punt as Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels think it will be, would it be a fair compromise because if we had something similar to a free kick that is used after safetys. Along with the fact that all players must start on the line of lets say the 30 or 35. But as Mike said, kicking at the 40 to 50 range could make it like a punt in that sense. We shall see what the lawsuits have in the terms of rule adjustments down the road.
Here’s why the punt is likely to stay vs the kickoff.
With the kickoff, the return team is already downfield setting up blocks/wedges… only the few guys up front on the return team are in position to slow down the kicking team. Thus you have the kicking team running full speed at return blockers beginning to run full speed at them.
In the punt formation, the return team is almost entirely at the line of scrimmage, and once the ball is punted, they are generally running in the same direction as the punt team – this sharply reduces the full-speed head-on collisions of the kickoff play. This is why gunners are almost always double-teamed at the line, since a gunner can release on the snap, prior to the punt.
Instead of a traditional kickoff from the 50, the kickoff could be replaced by a punt play that requires the return team blockers at the line of scrimmage or within 5 yards. Snap the ball from the 50, punter receives at the 35 and kicks from his own 40. He can still reach the end zone for a touchback if he really bangs it; most likely he will drop the ball somewhere inside the 10, and if the ball goes out of bounds, same as now: the receivers get the ball at their 40. This maintains the ability of an onside play where a kicking team can either make a pooch punt or have a pass play where the receiver must be at/beyond the opposing 40 (a running play from this kickoff-punt would not be allowed). With the blockers at the line, you have the same effect as the regular punt where all the players are running the same direction, thus reducing the head-on crashes, and the return team also has to think defense when an onside play might be a possibility.
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