As the NFL hopes to reduce kickoff returns by enticing teams to take a knee and opt under the new rule for the 25 instead of the 20, the league has to worry about teams deliberately kicking short of the end zone and trying to make the tackle inside the 25. Some teams may address that concern by telling owners to kick away.
“Well, I think you certainly have that conversation, there’s no question,” Cowboys executive V.P Stephen Jones told PFT Live on Wednesday in response to whether he’ll tell coach Jason Garrett to kick deep. “There’s a lot of consequences, I know the Rams tried to kick it short on us the other night and Lucky Whitehead went to the house. Those things are the risk that you take when you try to do the mortar kick there into the corner, there’s a chance it goes out of bounds. Sometimes if you ask these defensive coordinators starting there at the 20 yard line, having the offense start there, knowing you haven’t given up anything is not such a bad thing. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes this year.”
The adjustment to the touchback was passed on an experimental basis, requiring 24 affirmative votes again in 2017 to continue it. If the touchbacks increase instead of decrease, there’s little or no chance of the rule staying in place.