NFL bans running starts, restricts where players can line up on kickoffs

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The NFL has once again changed the kickoff.

NFL owners voted today to change the rules on kickoffs, with the following implemented for the 2018 season:

1. No running starts before the ball is kicked.

2. The kicking team must line up with five players on each side of the kicker.

3. At least two players on the kicking team must be outside the numbers.

4. At least two players on the kicking team must be between the numbers and the hashmarks.

5. At least eight players on the receiving team must be within 15 yards of their restraining line, which would typically mean between the kicking team’s 45-yard line and the receiving team’s 40-yard line.

6. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.

7. No wedge blocks.

All of these rules are designed to limit the number of high-impact collisions on kickoffs, which the NFL says are the most dangerous players in football. Eventually the kickoff might be eliminated altogether. At least for this season, it is remaining in place bus changing significantly.

59 responses to “NFL bans running starts, restricts where players can line up on kickoffs

  1. “Gentlemen, ladies, whatever weird ownership gig the Titans have going…Congratulations, we have eliminated lawsui-err, concussions. Yes, concussions, that’s right. To more commerc-err, player safety!”

    Rough transcript of Goodell’s victory speech, according to unnamed sources

  2. 6. Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, players on the receiving team can’t cross the restraining line (typically the 45), or initiate a block within 15 yards of the line where the ball is kicked.
    I’m trying to figure out how this will affect onside kicks.

  3. The game is a changing…and for the worse….. oh where have you gone my old Football??

  4. The day of new rules designed to make the game more exciting are long gone.

  5. How is a guy up front blocking going to know when the ball is caught? someone yells GO!!!

    The game is gone as I once knew it… Oh the pain…..

  6. I will continue to watch for now, but once kickoffs are eliminated I am done. I think the NFL is going the way Nascar is right now. Slow painful death.

  7. Sounds like they have effectively eliminated the on-side kick. God only knows what other unintended side effects this will have, but, there will certainly be some.

  8. They just took away the onside kick which ironically is the only reason they are keeping the kickoff around.

    The NFL has to stop implementing these rule changes so quickly. The rule should have a one year waiting period before being implemented. Give teams some time to study the rule and how to implement into their training. OTAs have already started and these rules are just now getting finalized. This and the CBA is why play has been so bad the past few years.

  9. It looks like these rules are designed to disable the blockers’ ability to defend their returner. How does this make things safer?

  10. And starting in 2025 season the flags warn must be the same color, cannot be hidden by the jersey, and must be connected with a 1″ by 2″ Velcro strip. Once the flag is no longer affixed to the ball carrier the said ball carrier will be considered downed at the exact point the flag was removed. If both flags are pulled at the same time an unnecessary roughness 15 yard penalty will be invoked.

  11. The NFL is a smart machine.

    They knew I liked watching kickoffs. Hell, they even fed my addiction with the cuts to the studio whenever Dante Hall, Devin Hester, or Josh Cribbs took another one to the house.

    So once they got slapped with the concussion lawsuit by players, they looked at what they could do to make the game appear safer. As my high school coach told me, “Special teams is the only place in America where you can run full speed into a guy 40 yards away and not go to jail.”

    Well, you can’t just say “Hey, no more kickoffs guys, from now on we will play tiddly winks on the front stoop the night before the game to determine field position”

    So whaddaya do? You eliminate the wedge. You eliminate guys in motion. You change the play that used to be so exciting, and make it an absolute bore to watch.

    And soon, fans like me that loved kickoffs, cannot wait for them to just eliminate them altogether instead of watering them down further.

    I’m on to your tricks, Shield…

  12. They should have just said no helmets on kickoff plays and left the rest alone. Put the helmets on while we watch 6 commercials after the kick

  13. So dumb. These are some of the best athletes in the world. They can hit full speed in less than five yards. What difference does “no running starts” make?

    Silly, meaningless nonsense.

  14. Hot garbage. Just more rules to let the refs make sure NE wins.

  15. No running start means that there will be more returns, because the coverage team will be at least 5 yards (probably closer to 10) further away from the returner when he gets the ball. The chances to return further than the 25 will increase.

    You’ll also see return teams start cross blocking, probably not all the way across the field, but on the return right the C will drop and sickout 2, the T will drop back and seal 4 inside etc. This will create some nice return lanes.

    Once this happens the kickoff team will need to counter it, so you’ll start seeing sky kicks to the 25 yard line, if the returner is lined up deep it’ll be hard for him to get up to catch the ball, so the “wedge” players will have to start handling the ball. In theory it will increase the number of fair catches made on KOR, but we’ll also see more drops.

    The NFL can tinker with the rules all they want but the special teams coordinators will try and find ways around it, and the desired rule change won’t have the effect that the NFL wants. Then next year they’ll tinker more and the STC’s will find a way around that.

  16. Mark my words. The NFL is one step away from adopting the NCAA Spring Game approach of starting on the 25, qbs in red jerseys.

  17. Maybe I’ll get killed for optimism but I’m going to give it a chance.

    Kickoffs had become a pretty rote series of touchbacks and ill-advised runs out of the end zone. Let’s face it, the kickoff hasn’t been much of a play for years.

    There are too many variables for me to predict whether this will be an improvement in entertainment value, but there isn’t much room for it to be much less entertainment value.

    Maybe the new constrained alignments open up more return opportunities. Maybe it gives returners more room to run. Maybe it makes kick returns safe enough to move the kicking line back and bring more returns back into the game, which we would all like.

    The upside is far greater than the downside. Here’s hoping the change creates more of the most exciting play in football.

  18. You can’t get a 10 yard head start before the bell is kicked, but you can run 15 yards or more and can’t be touched?

    Won’t we have ten on the kicking team running free longer, and more difficult to block (slow down), before one runs full speed into the returner?

    Are high kicks to the 5 or 10 the kicking strategy here? Kick it high so defenders can run (unblocked) and be staring at the returnervwhen he catches the ball.

  19. what about punts? The return man is usually a sitting duck if he doesn’t call fair catch. The entire punt team is getting a gigantic “running start!”

  20. mediasloppy says:
    May 22, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    I’m trying to figure out how this will affect onside kicks.

    Collectively these changes have moved the odds of a successful onside kick to ∞/1

  21. Thanks for killing the onside kick!!!
    Thanks for killing special teams creativity!
    The NFL needs new leadership

  22. The ban is for kick offs. It does not address onside kicks. I don’t think they are banning inside kicks(yet).

  23. magnumpimustache says:

    May 22, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    I love flag football.

    Who cares for on-side kicks they are always uneventful
    Tell that to Brandon Bostick.

  24. We are going to see so much time wasted on penalties… Players won’t know if they should stop or run. It’s good for the networks though. They can sell more advertising and drive more people away from watching!

  25. This actually puts a premium on those gunners with the 4.4 40 speed. The kicker launches the kick high and deep. The gunners will have about 4-5 seconds of hang time to go 40yds. That puts them past the receiving team’s blockers, who can’t do anything until the ball hits the ground. Or is caught. So we see either lots of fair catches, or letting the ball bounce and either goes into the end zone for a touchback, or bounce back towards midfield, where we will have a dogpile to recover the free ball.

  26. The refs can’t even tell what a catch looks like, how in the heck are they supposed to enforce this nonsense?

  27. The kicking team runs full speed at the receiving team who has to stand still. The first wave barrels over and concusses the front line defender as Gronk grabs the ball 10 1/2 yards downfield over the pile of unconscious bodies.

    New England recovers 3 onside kicks in week 1 and the owners change the rule the next day.

  28. Have them sign waivers and let’s play football if they don’t do it somebody else will!

  29. hailtothenamechange says:
    May 22, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Kickoffs had become a pretty rote series of touchbacks and ill-advised runs out of the end zone. Let’s face it, the kickoff hasn’t been much of a play for years.+

    Unless your special team’s coach is named Toub and his returner is some freak named Tyreek. Absolutely the most boring part of every game, sure.

  30. Why not just do away with the kickoff and have teams start on their own 20 or 35? With all these rules of where to line up and where not to, we’ll see more flags thrown than ever before.

  31. I can’t remember the last serious injury I saw during a kickoff return. All these rule changers are going to injure the game and television ratings, and what’s funny is in about 3-5 years the NFL is going to do nduct a million dollar study into why their television ratings are on the decline when I can telll the right now on May 23rd 2018…it’s all of these rule changes and legislation:

    I can’t even imagine playing football in 2018. I engage a ball carrier like Saquon Barkley And I’m trying to plant my shoulder on his waist and he instinctively shifts to his right causing my helmet to hit his mid section….flag on play…15 yard penalty. On top of that there would be some Ref who never played the game judging my intent.

  32. Vegas was thrilled to learn a suitable replacement for affecting the outcomes of games has been adopted that makes the tuck rule look like a constitutional amendment.

  33. “Player safety”? Tell me, which player is forced to play football? Which player is demeaned by accepting a six, seven or eight figure salary to do so?

  34. If I read this correctly, the NFL has just banned the on side kick. Along with changes in line blocking rules, not only will the game now become bogged down with even more endless penalties, they changed the basic way the game is played…

    Gee Rog,are you guys finished destroying our game?

  35. These sound pretty minor to me compared to the other suggestions that were being considered. Other than onside kicks, how often do teams cross the restraining line before the ball is touched or hits the ground? Unless part 2 of this story is that the onside kick is now the onside pass, I can live with this.

  36. I am sad to say that NFL football has been losing my interest for the past 3 years. I’ve been a loyal Patriots fan since 1966 when I was old enough to pay attention to sports. We’ve had many Sunday family dinners for 4 generations centered on the time New England had their games with everyone in their Patriots shirts. I am grateful and fortunate that I’ve been able to watch real football for so many years and that my grandkids have known nothing but a winning dynasty with Brady and Belichick. When those two legends retire, I think my time with the NFL will be finished. Too many changes in the game, too much corruption and the complete loss of integrity due to Goodell. I will make the most of the end of football as we know it and feel blessed for all the great years of football fun filled Sundays that I had with my family.

  37. football is becoming like govt…over regulating, and laws that no one knows or can remember. Can you imagine how many officials they’ll need to add to keep track of all these conditions mentioned above? crazy!

  38. They can try to kick the ball straight up into the air and let it fall after the 10yds. In the meantime, everybody on the kicking team moves under it, and it’ll be like a rebound in basketball.

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