At last, something worth me banging on about has happened in the NFL — it feels like ages since I put anything on here.
It’s that time of the NFL year when not much is going on, no matter how hard the media circus surrounding the league tries to make something out of nothing and tries to keep us as interested in them and the league as we are during the season.
Anyway, that’s enough about my dislike for the NFL media and time to move on to the point of this post. Basically, the NFL has brought in some new rules to be put into place for the 2018 NFL season with regards to kickoffs.
Out of the 32 team owners in the NFL, 24 had to vote positively for the changes to be brought in. Obviously, 24+ did vote for the changes as they are being brought in this coming season. So, what are these changes?
- Kicking team players can now only line up 1-yard deep of the line the ball is being kicked from (the 35-yard line most of the time) instead of the old 5-yards deep. This is to reduce the run-up the kicking team players get in an attempt to slow them down a little at the point of any contact they will have when being blocked or making a tackle.
- Wedge blocks (double-team blocking) have been reduced as now only players on the receiving team who lineup between their own 40-yard line and the opponents 45-yard line (known as the ‘Setup Zone’) can wedge block. This stops them happening further downfield when kickoff team members are up to full speed.
- There must be at least 8 players in the 15-yard ‘Setup Zone’, meaning they too have to run toward the returner to set up their block instead of already being set up and on the prowl for someone to hit as they come flying downfield.
- The receiving/returning team players cannot cross (go further upfield towards their opponent’s end) their ‘restraining line’ (their 45-yard line) or initiate a block until one of their players has touched the ball or it has hit the ground. This should compact the action deeper in the receiving team’s half and reduce the risk of unexpected blocks on kicking team players further upfield away from the returner.
- When the ball enters the endzone it is immediately ruled a touchback. There’s no need for the returner to down the ball by going down on a knee.
- The kicking team has to line up in a more balanced formation as there will have to be 5 players on either side of the ball with at least 2 outside the numbers and at least another 2 between the numbers and hash marks.
If that’s all as clear as mud, here’s a little video the NFL has put out to explain the new rules visually.
My Thoughts on New NFL Kickoff Rules for 2018
I like them (not sure I need to say anymore).
People will moan about kickoffs becoming boring and how they might as well just remove them from the game and it’s supposed to be contact football and not flag football, blah blah blah blah….. But I’d put money on that these are the same kind of people pissing and moaning about how much money they are having to pay to watch backups play because the starters are out injured.
These rules are being put in place to reduce the injury risk to players on kickoffs as they aim to reduce the number of high-speed collisions through blocks and tackles.
Yes, most kickoffs will still sail into and through the endzone resulting in more touchbacks as the player catching the ball in the endzone no longer has the option to return it. I’m ok with this and it just means more skill will have to come into the kickoff game on the part of the kicker himself. If a team is happy to keep going with the touchback (I would be as I could, perhaps, plan my defensive strategy a little more consistently) then the kicker can keep booting the ball into the endzone. But, if a team wants to try to pin the opposition back, the kicker is going to have to take lessons from the punter and start trying to place the ball in the corner by the goal line.
It all depends on how the teams adapt to the new rules and how they want to develop their kickoffs and returns. Personally, I’m totally fine with the NFL trying to reduce injuries, especially on plays that have resulted in touchbacks anyway in the past, and am excited to see what teams come up with in the way of new kickoff packages.
What do you think?
So, what do you think of the new rules changes on kickoffs? Are you happy with them or would you have preferred them to have left that aspect of the game as it was?
As usual, have your say in the comments section below.