New rule could lead to “more athletic player” on kickoffs

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It’s clear that the NFL is experimenting with the kickoff in the hopes of making it safer, but without any specific goal beyond simply making it safer. The play also will be different, given the changes that are expected to become official later this year.

“I think you’re gonna see less offensive linemen on this unit,” Saints coach Sean Payton, a member of the Competition Committee, explained during a visit to PFT Live. “I think you’re gonna see a more athletic player on this unit. I think you’re gonna have less space in the collisions, which the goal was at the beginning.”

The changes in the positioning (and possibly the composition) on the kickoff also could lead to various other unforeseen, by maybe not unwelcome, consequences.

“I’m not so sure that you’re not gonna see a handful of unique returns now when you have eight [blockers] inside that initial 15-yard zone,” Payton said. “I think there’s space and I also think there’s also opportunities that present themselves for the kicking team. Whether it’s not an onside [kick] but you know placing the ball in certain areas of the field maybe with the idea of trying to recover it.”

Whether the kickoff survives in this form ultimately depends on whether the play reduces the injury risk. Packers CEO Mark Murphy recently said players are five times more likely to suffer a concussion during a kickoff than a scrimmage play. So what reduced rate would be acceptable to the NFL?

“I don’t know that there’s been a rate we discussed,” Payton said regarding last week’s safety summit. “I think clearly we discussed making it safer. I think to the league’s credit having the group on hand that we did with the former players, special teams coaches, other head coaches to really have dialogue and discussion on improving our game and trying to improve the safety of a play like that. I think they did a great job and came back with some really significant changes that I think the fans will be excited still about. And yet I think we’ll see a dip in this number [of concussions].”

Time will tell whether that’s the case. If not, more changes could occur to the kickoff — including its possible elimination.

39 responses to “New rule could lead to “more athletic player” on kickoffs

  1. What appears to be happening is the game is progressing beyond the human body’s ability to play it. Pretty soon their going to have to put in size caps (gymnastics does it, boxes has weight classes so it’s not crazy) or lose the game entirely.

  2. where is the data that shows kickoff are the most dangerous play? i would think that wr crossing routes would be the most dangerous, or maybe a tight end

  3. Since they have every intention of slowly phasing out a major part of the game. I say they just have a jump ball at midfield.

  4. stop messing with the game. It is an inherently dangerous sport. Make sure each and every player knows the risks and signs a waiver. All these changes are killing the sport

  5. I find it funny that Payton is talking about player safety when he was one of the coaches that had a bounty on opposing players

  6. I was wondering this as well. If eliminating some of the collisions and having the blocking team blocking on the run might actually lead to more long returns. It might have an unintended, fun for the fan consequence. I’ve always thought punt returns were more fun than kickoffs anyway

  7. If they are going to limit the size of people on kickoffs then they really need to also expand the roster. Actually the roster should have been expanded years ago regardless. The 53 man roster is ridiculous.

  8. harryshavik says:
    May 9, 2018 at 10:52 am
    2018: NE Patriots lead league in Kick Off Yardage & TDs;
    2018 Offseason: 31 Teams vote YES to eliminate Kick Off.
    —————————————————————-
    Ha! I hate this statement…..but, yes.

  9. Dont make it a weight maximum on kickoffs, make it a weight minimum. Everyone one of you giant lumbering humans over 290 get out there, we’ve covered the ball in bacon. It will be slow and delicious.

  10. Slowly, but surely, the league wants to remove the “Foot” out of ‘Football’…

    When they do, What will they call it then?

  11. .
    per their own stats there is 1% chance or less of a player getting a concussion on a kickoff.
    aka their statements are bogus and fact-less.
    Not sure why this isnt being pointed out.

  12. Chill_Donahue says:
    May 9, 2018 at 11:20 am
    Belichick will find a way to exploit this and a new rule change will come out in 2019.

    I have to wonder,

    back when someone first figured out you can throw a football, did they get accused of exploiting or cheating? Or the first time someone jumped over a tackler? Not fair! Surely knocking the ball out of a QB’s hand must be cheating!

  13. NFL = National Flag-football League

    NFL players will wear touch-sensitive electronic suits. As as soon a pair of hands touch the suit, flashing lights and buzzers will be activated and the play is over right there and then.

  14. brwmstr says:
    May 9, 2018 at 10:30 am
    stop messing with the game. It is an inherently dangerous sport. Make sure each and every player knows the risks and signs a waiver. All these changes are killing the sport
    —-

    I am sure they want to leave it alone. Kind of difficult to do when they keep getting sued for billions of dollars. It is not a smart business decision to keep doing the same thing and then losing money due to concussion lawsuits. The changes are not killing the sport…the head injuries and lawsuits are. They are making a smart business decision.

  15. Go back to leather helmets….wide shoulder pads…and poof…head injuries go away. The NFL has made the helmet too good. The head is now used as a tackling method.
    I get a kick out of watching 80’s/90’s highlights. LBs and DBs had some huge shoulder pads because they used them to tackle properly. Not anymore. The NFL has created this problem on their own by allowing players to use equipment that detracts from proper technique.

  16. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: “Slowly, but surely, the league wants to remove the “Foot” out of ‘Football’… When they do, What will they call it then?”
    ——————————

    Well, they haven’t used a closed-bottom peach basket since 1906, yet the game is still called basketball…

  17. They still want millions of dollars to play the game so there must be risk involved. People don’t pay to watch the nfl because it’s non violent if you want safe then get a regular job. It’s made billions because it’s not safe

  18. bspurloc says: “per their own stats there is 1% chance or less of a player getting a concussion on a kickoff.
    aka their statements are bogus and fact-less.”
    ————————————-

    I think their point is that even 1% probability is too high. If every play had that high an odd, there wouldn’t be enough players by halftime. Not sure why you even think their statement is bogus considering they have been tracking the concussion data and has been reported here in the media many times.

  19. bubbybrister/shovelpass says: “Slowly, but surely, the league wants to remove the “Foot” out of ‘Football’… When they do, What will they call it then?”
    ——————————

    Well, they haven’t used an “Hoquet” (French for shepherd’s crook) in hockey for over a 100 years either, and that’s the national sport in Canada…

  20. I remember when Madden would declare a hit that week’s slobber-knocker. I also remember a Snickers commercial with a comical scene about a concussed player. Times sure have changed.

  21. bubbybrister/shovelpass says:
    May 9, 2018 at 11:33 am
    Slowly, but surely, the league wants to remove the “Foot” out of ‘Football’…

    When they do, What will they call it then?
    ……………………………………………………………………………..

    I’m guessing they just call it soccer and start calling soccer football again seeing as they actually use the feet…

  22. Packers CEO Mark Murphy recently said players are five times more likely to suffer a concussion during a kickoff than a scrimmage play.
    ________

    Sure, but he also said the Packers were going to play in the Super Bowl at US Bank Stadium, so you have to take anything he says with a grain of salt.

  23. Move the kickoff back to the 40 yard line like it was and most kicks would be out of the end zone thus fewer run backs. But please don’t take away the possibility for an onside kick. It’s pretty exciting when it’s recovered by the kicking team, especially when it is the 2nd half kick off in a Super Bowl.

  24. harryshavik says:
    May 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

    2018: NE Patriots lead league in Kick Off Yardage & TDs;
    2018 Offseason: 31 Teams vote YES to eliminate Kick Off.
    _________

    Cute story, but the Patriots were 19th in kickoff return yardage, 12th in kickoff return average, and their one TD was tied with six other teams for first.

  25. Proposed Rule Change: Allow the receiving team one forward pass, at any point on the field during the return

  26. They can’t change the rule, the Vikings once invested a first round pick on a kick returner. They would have never done that if they eliminate the kick offs.

  27. I find it funny that Payton is talking about player safety when he was one of the coaches that had a bounty on opposing players
    ======================================
    I find it funny that you actually believed Goodell lmao

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