As the NFL continues to tinker with kickoffs, it’s seeking the input of those who study the play the most.
NFL V.P. of Officiating Dean Blandino recently took part in a conference call with all 32 special teams coordinators, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports.
The NFL changed kickoffs this year by moving touchbacks out to the 25-yard line, which the league hopes will incentivize returners to keep the ball in the end zone and result in fewer collisions on kick returns. The league is looking at more changes to kickoffs in the future and wanted to see if special teams coaches have any ideas.
According to Pelissero, the potential changes include:
* Forcing all 10 coverage players on the kickoff team to start while standing still at the 35-yard line, rather than getting a five-yard running start as they do now.
* Requiring eight players on the return team to line up closer to the spot of the kickoff.
* Banning certain types of blocks.
* Treating a kickoff that travels more than 25 yards like a punt that can be downed, rather than like a free ball as is now the case.
* Eliminating the K-ball, which is harder to kick.
With players running full speed into each other after a running start, some see the kickoff as an inherently dangerous play that needs to be eliminated from football. But if special teams coaches have better ideas for how to keep the kickoff but make it safer, the league office is open to suggestions.