Blog Entry

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:15 pm
Posted by Will Brinson

It appears the "tweak" faction won out with the NFL owners on Tuesday, as it's been announced that in 2011, kickoffs will take place from the 35-yard-line, while touchbacks will remain at the 20-yard-line.

Previously, it had been thought possible that touchbacks could be moved to the 25-yard-line in 2011, but that proposal was met with a storm of vitriol from many people around the league, particularly those teams with strong special teams units.

Some coaches believed -- and rightly so -- that moving touchbacks to the 25-yard-line would affect field position too much.

"Any time there's a touchback and now it's not coming to the 20," Saints coach Sean Payton said, "I think that that probably was the most drastic of the four or five items that constituted one rule."

Then, earlier Tuesday, Marvin Lewis, a member of the Competition Committee, let word leak that there was substantial consideration towards tweaking the rules while still improving player safety.

That tweak has taken place, and now two things remain to be seen. One, will this improve player safety? It seems likely, based on what we know about kickoffs and the strong possibility of increasing touchbacks while also limiting the length at which a wedge can build steam. (This seems like a good time to remind folks that the wedge has NOT been outlawed.)

"The bottom line is it's ... the highest risk of injury play," Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Latest from Owners Meetings

And two, will this decrease the enjoyment that fans get out of kickoff returns? It seems somewhat likely, since kicking from the 35-yard-line probably means less returns. Though it could increase the flashiness of big gains during kickoffs, thanks to players like Devin Hester being able to break the field wide open.

Speaking of player safety, two other proposals were deferred. First, a proposal to outlaw players launching to make a hit. And two, expanding the definition of a defenseless receiver.

"We didn't feel like there was enough support to get it passed," said Giants owner John Mara, a competition committee member. "A number of people seemed to be, in my opinion, more concerned about flags being thrown for questionable hits. My feeling is, I'm more concerned about needless concussions, so I'm willing to make that trade. But I think we need to go back and just clarify some of the language, maybe to make it a little bit more clear for everybody."

On the replay side of things, all scoring plays will now be subject to a replay by the booth (a rule which passed with a 30-2 vote), which no longer means that coaches need to feel concerned with throwing their red flags on an issue that occurs near the goal line. Additionally, coaches will continue to earn a third challenge if they win their first two, though that was considered as a possibility to be dropped.

Coaches pushed for the change in great part because they felt they didn't get a fair shake in road games.

"It's a real big competitive disadvantage," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You don't get that look at it on the road that you get at home; they just don't show it."

Oh yes, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the "Boise Rule" -- NFL fields must remain green-colored. The logic here, apparently, is to keep teams from slapping sponsorships onto their surface that would discolor the playing field.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Nov 28, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 10:01 am
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Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: March 24, 2011 3:24 pm

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

But you also failed to mention that he had 3 punts return for td's if he lost a step he should keep doing it cause 3 td on special teams and 4 on offence is a great year in anyones books. I wish my giants had that production.He also averaged 35 yards a kick return and 17 yards on punts. Those are great numbers also. 

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: March 24, 2011 12:35 pm

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

What the hell game are you watching, pal? In case you didn't know this, Hester has the most TD returns in NFL history, including a couple this past season
Operative words being only a couple this past season.  Marc Mariani has far surpassed anything Devin Hester or Joshua Cribbs have done lately.  Their names are only mentioned because they USED to be good IN THE PAST.  Cribbs's toes all go different directions now, he will never be the same and to say that Devin Hester has lost a step or two is a mild understatement.  What did he do last year?  He is a shell of his former self.  If you are going to interview kick returners, try a relevant one.

Since: Oct 23, 2009
Posted on: March 24, 2011 11:10 am

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

"slapping sponsorships onto their surface"? 

OK.  Why not have a large pizza logo on the 50 yard line with a toll free number that people at home could call for delivery during the game?

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: March 24, 2011 7:25 am

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

right but if the ball is kicked anywhere within a few yards from either sideline can a return man really let it bounce?  I mean let's say your intention is to let it bounce into the endzone and it dies at the 2 or 3, then what?  It's a mad scramble to pick it up and hopefully get to the 10?  What if he let's it bounce and it takes a sideways bounce?  Being that kickoff is a live ball after 10 yards, letting it bounce is awfully risky.

Since: Feb 22, 2007
Posted on: March 24, 2011 2:04 am

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

Snake_Farm - Your are being a little over dramatic about it.  Firstly, the radio show you listened to has one purpose, evoke a response from listeners - apparently it worked on you.  Secondly, it wasn't very long ago that the kickoffs were from the 35 yardline, and football was very fun to watch still.  They only changed it to the 30 yardline recently to add a little extra excitement to the game, but since they are now trying to appear to be concerned with player safety (so they can push the 18 game season), they are limiting the most dangerous play in the game. 

Honestly, I think it's the right thing to do.  Maybe that has a little to do with the fact that the Packers gave up the worst starting field position in the league last year, and Mason Crosby has a phobia of kicking into the endzone.

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: March 23, 2011 11:05 pm

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

I heard on radio months ago that the NFL was trying to eliminated kickoff returns and just place the ball. This change pretty much accomplished that - in such a way as to preserve on-side kicks. 

Next, I suppose, will come the "Five Mississippi" rule for rushing defensive linemen.

Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: March 23, 2011 5:24 pm

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

Guys look at the history of the NFl look when paul Tagliabue was the commisioner.    Look at the stuff he changed He never did anything that would change the integrity of the game. He was commisioner for what 30 years and he added alot of great stuff like salary cap and replay. But he never tried to change the way the game is played. Not look At what goodell has done. He is taking the fire out of the game we love. Why does he feel he need to fix somethign that is not broke. We all know he doent care about the injuiers of the players. We all know that. I just dont understand why is he changing a game that we learned how to play when we were kids. If you played little league you were taught to hit hard knock someones head off fly around with reckless abandon(I just did a google search to make sure i was spelling the word right and look whats number 1 a kid asking what it means cause his coach told him to play with it) Please just police the league dont change the game.  Fire Goodell

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