Jack Del Rio: Kickoff change means lower-scoring games

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With kickoffs moved from the 30-yard line to the 35, more touchbacks are a certainty in the NFL this season. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio wants fans to understand that also means lower-scoring games.

“If you back up the offense and start them on the 20, you’re going to reduce the chances of scoring,” Del Rio said on ESPN Radio. “So I think what’s going to happen is when they get done looking at this year they’re going to say, ‘Boy, scoring dropped. Wow. I wonder what caused that.’ Well, I think kickoffs are going to play a part in that.”

Del Rio is almost certainly right: There will be more touchbacks and fewer returned kickoffs, which means not only fewer return touchdowns but also fewer long returns that set up the offense in good field position. So that will make for less interesting games, unless you find touchbacks interesting.

“You’re going to watch the kicking team line up and then you’ll watch the offense get the ball at the 20,” Del Rio said. “That’s what’s going to happen the majority of the time. Unless you get a real strong breeze or something where the ball can’t go deep enough to not bring it out, you’re going to see a tremendous amount of balls staying in the end zone or kicked through the end zone, and the ball’s going to stay at the 20.”

The Jaguars voted against the rule change.

“We were a ‘no’ team,” Del Rio said. “We did not like the rule. It passed and so we’ll deal with it. I think what you’ll see is that element of the game is really not a big part of it.”

42 responses to “Jack Del Rio: Kickoff change means lower-scoring games

  1. You could see an increase in passing/rushing yards. Teams will have to go further and they will need to get more yards…

  2. Sadly, the NFL opted for player safety by removing a part of the game. If you follow that line of thinking, player safety could be ensured by simply not playing the games at all. This isn’t a “protect the QB” type of rule, this is a “have no QB at all” type of rule…

  3. The NFL has focused on helping the offense in order to increase scoring and excitement. Next year if they decide to keep the new kickoff rule, maybe they can at least consider moving the touchback line up 5 yards as well to the 25, or 10 yards to the 30.

  4. “If you back up the offense and start them on the 20, you’re going to reduce the chances of scoring”.

    True, but this is really more pertinent for bad teams. Good teams will score regardless.

    …I can see why Del Rio is upset.

  5. Lower scoring for the Jags??? Moving van for LA will be there at the end of the season

  6. The Texans’ special teams is only slightly better than the local junior high’s special teams. They didn’t have any trouble scoring on Saturday against the Saints.

    True, it’s only one preseason game, but Del Rio is overreacting.

    Does the rule blow? Yes, hell yes.

    Less scoring? Probably not.

  7. The NFL says they will look at it at the end of the year to see the injury numbers. Does anyone actually KNOW how many people are injured on kickoffs? Of THAT number, I’d like to know which ones were due to hits and which were because of a “freak thing” where they pull something or the like.

    Also, Jack, you’ll certainly see lower scoring games for your team with the game manager you have behind center.

  8. Of course this is a silly rule. The NFL has just greatly minimized one of the three phases of the game special teams. Why would you take away a tactic that gives teams a chance to have great field position on good kick returns? Especially since this is a offensive/QB driven league.

  9. Ask the guys who are sacrificing their bodies on kickoffs what they think about the new rule and damn-near 100% of them will tell you it is BS. These players are essentially running head-first into a car crash and they are wondering why they cannot continue to do so.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if other sports took similar measures to “make the game safer.”

    1. Reduce the player foul limit in basketball to 3 that way physical play is nearly non-existent and less injuries occur.

    2. Reduce the speed of Nascar races that way crashes that occur are potentially less fatal.

    3. Implement safety precautions at the X-games so Travis whatever-his-name-is doesn’t do a triple backflip onto concrete.




  10. The thing about this rule is that it ONLY increases the safety of kickoffs for ONE GUY, the kick returner. EVERYONE ELSE STILL runs downfield at top speed colliding with blockers THE SAME AS BEFORE.

    How many kickoff injuries are to the returner compared to how many are to the rest of the team?

    I’ve yet to see any real numbers showing how this makes the game safer.

    The new kickoff location rule is idiotic.

  11. When the game is presented on television with a block of commercials followed by a kickoff, followed by another block of commercials, and people start changing the channel because kickoffs aren’t worth watching anymore….then the rule will be switched back. After all, revenue always trumps safety!

  12. So, the receiving offense is backed up. They sputter and don’t move the ball well. The kicking team’s offense gets the ball back in decent field position. What’s the problem? This is moving back to where the kickoff was for years. Now there will be more kicker competition because you might have a trade off of the guy who can kick it out of the end zone and the guy who just gets it into the end zone on kick offs, but the second guy is more accurate in 50+ field goals.

  13. What Jack and the rest of you that think this rule will reduce scoring fail to realize is that teams will get better field position after the punt because teams have started deeper in there own territory. It just shows you that Jack is just a dumb linebacker that is clueless. He should have picked up on that being he was a defensive player.

  14. steelerssmack4u says:
    Aug 24, 2011 8:39 AM
    Lower scoring for the Jags??? Moving van for LA will be there at the end of the season

    Did you notice how you wrote the only LA comment? Probably b/c 2009 was two years ago and your brain cells need to mature to that of an adult instead of 12 year old comments.

  15. I see the kick-off being phased out almost totally by 2015. First they move the kick-off spot to the 35, then they remove the kick-off entirely from post-touchdowns, then they remove it from the start of the second-half. They will keep it as a symbolic start to the game, and that is all. Remember jump-balls in basketball? It will be the same in football. They will not go back to the 30, ever. It’s only been about 15 years since they switched it back from the 35. These NFL guys have huge egos and will never admit they are wrong. Plus, it helps with their cutting down of injuries argument. It will be tougher to phase out the punt, but they will probably figure out a way to that too. And the funny is that everyone hates kickers. Players, fans, the media, they all treat kickers like second-class citizens, but we all cry when they are not a part of the game. Oh well. Football will survive and we will all keep watching and complaining that “it’s not as tough or exciting as it used to be.” Our grandfathers said that in the 70s too.

  16. It hurts teams that can’t throw the football and move it up and down the field. The Jaguars are one of those teams. Cry me a freaking river Jack and then get a real quarterback.

  17. There is a lot of hidden yardage for teams in specials teams. Add in that some players make a team just because they do well in special teams. I don’t care if you’re the best offensive team or the worst offensive team those yards lost or gained on a kickoff can be the difference between getting any points or none. Based on what we’ve seen so far teams will start possessions either from the 20 or worse this.

    This was a mistake by the NFL’s competition committee and I think they need to take a more serious look at it before the preseason ends.

  18. akulabug says:
    Aug 24, 2011 10:35 AM
    Don’t worry Jack. I about four months you won’t have to worry about it.

    I’m confused. What’s going to happen on December 24th?

  19. This rule change will hurt some teams and help others. Teams with a good defense and sorry special teams will benefit greatly. The Dolphins ST were worse than their offense. They couldn’t gain a field position advantage and the other team seemed to start at the 40 or better much of the year. They will benefit from this. Chicago ST were a big reason for their success. That is all but gone now. SD had #1 offense and #1 defense but missed the playoffs largely due to ST. This rule change may seem like a minor tweak designed to limit injury, but it has the potential to disrupt the “power rankings” within the league.

  20. I think people are really over-reacting to this change. We’re talking about FIVE yards. If you field the ball at the two yard line and then run for 40 yards, you give your team great field position. So, now you field the ball three yards deep in the end zone. You still have the CHOICE to run those same 40 yards or you can take the safe route and go to one knee.

    All of these coaches complaining about five yards taking away the potential for a TD or big return need to grow a pair and stop taking the easy way out by kneeling down. Look at what Bryan Waters did in the Chargers preseason game. He ran the ball out from three yards deep and generated an exciting 103 yard return to give his team six points.

    The decision is in the coaches hands on how this plays out. It is NOT an automatic touch back. Only the coaches and players can decide that.

  21. Once the Comp Committee sees it helps defenses keep scoring down, it will be reversed, don’t worry.

    /hates offense centric CC

  22. Murdoc and Hollywood says:
    Is he aware that his team lost 47-12 to the Patriots?

    Are you aware of the objective of a preseason game?

    Are you aware the Jags D forced 4 turnovers, and recovered 1 in the first few series of that game?

  23. the rule is horrible. Worse for field position. Some players aka Devin Hester have their level of impact drastically reduced. AND it makes special teams a lot less special. Teams should just expect to have to work an 80 yd drive to get a score. Maybe it will motivate the Jags to start developing a NASTY defense. sTEAL curtain or something. a beast of a defense to force a punt or turnover is the only way we will see good field position this year. YouTube some sweet kick returns…we are gonna be missing out this year… shame..

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