Is the kickoff going away? If it is, what will take its place?
That’s all to be determined, but it remains clear that the kickoff as currently configured will be going away, sooner or later. (And probably sooner.)
The best alternative articulated to date entails a fourth-and-15 play from the 30 yard line of the team that would be kicking. This allows the punt to simulate the kickoff, a play from scrimmage to simulate a planned onside kick, and a fake punt to simulate a surprise onside kick. (It also allows a team to pooch punt from scrimmage and pin the other team deep at a point in the game where the team that still trails would have otherwise been torn between kicking away or kicking onside.)
Apparently there are other alternatives, even if they’ve yet to be unveiled. Either way, it’s clear that more changes are coming.
“We see that there’s a higher incident of injuries on that play,” Commissioner Roger Goodell told Rich Eisen of NFL Network on Thursday. “So we’ve tried to look at this and sort of what is it we can do to make it a safer play but also improve the excitement of it? And there’s actually been some creative thinking that we’re going to discuss again next week. And several different concepts [from] special-teams coaches and other coaches. We even have one from a well-known college coach that came up with alternatives, but really exciting plays.”
Goodell didn’t identify the well-known college coach or mention the alternatives. But as the death rattle of the kickoff becomes audible, it would be good to know what comes next.