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New Kickoff Rules (1 Viewer)

Some good insight from Eric Galko who was on the team that created, tested, and developed the now New NFL Kickoff. Found these things quite useful, especially from a fantasy standpoint if you get return TD points and are wondering how to adjust for your draft.

1. Overall Play Designs: The kickoff play isn’t going to be run like a previous kickoff. They'll be less value on collisions, quickness and explosiveness.Instead, it’ll likely be more closely analogous to a spaced out run play. You might even see Special Teams coaches develop into Man vs. Zone type distinctions. You'll see players pull, plays like Power/Duo, now on kickoff return! This will lead to a higher value on TE/FB-type run blocking value on return, and LB/SAF block shedding value on kickoff. Should help athlete TEs who can block (like Tip Reiman) and undersized LBs/Big Safeties (like Tyler Owens) be even more valuable now.

2. Returner Evaluations: Similar to above, returner value will be less about top end speed and burst, and more about vision and reacting. In short, more "running back attacking the hole"-type will be more valuable than vs. "receivers navigating in the open field" types. We at the XFL saw the teams with the most success had decisive, one-cut players rather than their fastest guys back there.Don’t be surprised if we see more RBs (or those with RB backgrounds) get more opportunities as returners, and for those returners to be a bit based on which “kick scheme” the team runs (man vs. zone).We could even see bigger athletic RBs (like Isaac Guerendo), be not only potential returners, but coveted options.

3. Roster Construction: For the last 5+ years, a "core special teamer" primarily meant a standout on just punt and punt return team, which amplified just gunners and returners in a big way.Now, the new NFL Kickoff heavily incentivizes every return to be a live play. That puts in 10+ more plays into real action again, and one that requires a defined skill set. That’s HUGE. Don’t be surprised if teams adjust how many at each position they carry. Carrying a 5th Tight Ends, a 78th/8th Linebackers and/or a 5th/6th Safety may be common place.

4. Learning Curve: At the XFL (2020 edition), we felt confident we’d see not only a lot of returners (as we and now the NFL rule heavily incentivizes a play happening), but a lot of big plays.But it took time for our coaches and players to be comfortable and creative, as well as address the reduced space initially.The old NFL kickoff had big lanes initially that closed up with good coverage. This new kickoffs will have more narrow lanes, but a much greater opportunity to turn those lanes into big plays and touchdowns.It may just take until the second half of the NFL season for it to happen. But when it does, don't be surprised if we see a MAJOR uptick in return touchdowns.
Thanks for posting this. It seems like a large portion of people don't realize while the kickoff changes are "new" to the NFL, they aren't really new. The XFL was doing this already. In fact, IMO, they were doing it even better, but upon stealing the idea the NFL tweaked a few things that didn't need tweaking and likely made it worse again (go figure lol). But yeah, they gathered tons and tons of data not only on the decrease of injuries doing kickoff this way, but driving towards making the play more important and more exciting, rewarding teams who don't just take a touchback or fair catch.

Inventive/creative teams will without a doubt take advantage of this and I would just about guarantee we'll see at least one game next season won primarily because of these changes. With the kickoff team lining up within yards of the return team, I think we'll see more premiere athletic players doing returns as the injury risk is driven down a lot. The one that jumps out to me would be having Tyreek Hill going back to returning kickoffs. Also, probably the only positive tweak the NFL made over the XFL, having multiple returners eligible could lead to some really exciting reverses and laterals/tosses in designed return plays. It was something I was wishing the NFL would steal for years now.
 
I don't see how this dramatically changes kickoffs to become relevant again. The safe play will always be to take the ball at the 30, and kicking into the end zone seems to be the result of the vast majority of kickoffs.

Sure, this allows for some interesting options, but they didn't really do anything to truly incentivize those options.

Seems like if they wanted KR to return kicks, they'd put the touchback at the 20, not the 30. If anything, by moving it up 5 yards, they're discouraging returns.
 
I don't see how this dramatically changes kickoffs to become relevant again. The safe play will always be to take the ball at the 30, and kicking into the end zone seems to be the result of the vast majority of kickoffs.

Sure, this allows for some interesting options, but they didn't really do anything to truly incentivize those options.

Seems like if they wanted KR to return kicks, they'd put the touchback at the 20, not the 30. If anything, by moving it up 5 yards, they're discouraging returns.
Yeah but they're also incentivizing the kicking team not to put it in the endzone, right?
 
Yeah but they're also incentivizing the kicking team not to put it in the endzone, right?
Kinda. I guess. It’s +5 yards vs having 2 KR who could hurt you worse.

If the 25 didn’t incentivize that I’m not sure why the 30 would.

The decision is whether to risk the KRTD or not, right?
 
Yeah but they're also incentivizing the kicking team not to put it in the endzone, right?
Kinda. I guess. It’s +5 yards vs having 2 KR who could hurt you worse.

If the 25 didn’t incentivize that I’m not sure why the 30 would.

The decision is whether to risk the KRTD or not, right?
I imagine the analytics will come out to say a KRTD is unlikely, and we'll look at average field position for returned kicks, and we'll see that good kickoff kickers matter a lot more too, and teams can differentiate.

I'm sure some teams will boot it every time still. Others will try really hard to return well. Others will be dumb and not take advantage of any perceived edges.
 
Looking at some of the data from the XFL, if you're in a league that scores kick return yards, you'll likely want to pay attention to this new rule. In the XFL, 6 players had over 500 yards returning in the new ruleset, and that was only in 10 games. The NFL had 2 over a 17 game season.

Do we know who teams will be using for kick returns yet? It looks like with the new rules, pure speed isn't of much value anymore. So the personnel might change. It looks like players who are YAC monsters will thrive in kickoffs. I wonder if we'll see more stud players take kickoffs since it should be safer. Especially in situations where a team ight be losing.
 
Touchbacks will likely dominate the NFL’s new kickoff

The XFL’s kickoff return was returned for an average position of 29 yards. The NFL moved the kickoff back five yards (along with a few other rule changes), so the expectation going into the season is that the starting field position spot will be around the 34-yard-line. Here’s the problem: The NFL didn’t adjust the penalty for a touchback to go along with that five-yard change, so touchbacks out the back of the end zone have a starting field position at the 30-yard-line...which could lead to just as many touchbacks as before.

If kicking teams are electing to allow return teams to field the ball, the main strategy is going to be a sort of long squib attempt. If a ball bounces inside the 20 and goes out of the end zone, the touchback simply goes to the 20-yard-line. Under XFL rules, there was a hangtime penalty that was enforced to prevent these “long squib” attempts, but the NFL didn’t adopt it.

So you’re going to see one of two plays with the NFL’s rules: A kick out of the back of the end zone or a long squib that could lead to teams actually using two returners on the field at the same time rather than just the single returner that we’re used to...

Florio claims that one coach told him that teams “will choose to kick out of the end zone at the outset of the season, so that the play can be studied based on the teams that choose to be the guinea pigs for it.”

In 2023, the average drive started at the 28.8 yard line. So not much sacrificed by just giving opponents a touchback at the 30.
 
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That's too bad. I think it would be amazing seeing Lamar Jackson or Ceedee Lamb taking kickoffs in the new format.
 
Some articles I'm reading are suggesting teams with elite running QBs should use them on kickoffs. :lmao:
I enjoy this discussion even if it never happens and is unlikely.
I enjoyed college Mariota and so many on option plays. I think Justin Fields is hard enough to tackle to have him pausing to pump fake. On and on...
Maybe fourth quarter desperation but it's not likely.
Ol Antonio Andrews was built like a truck, played gunner and KR, RB FB and was a two time Mr Football at QB in highschool. He's probably ideal for scheming.
Many in the NFL have played offense and defense and QB in high school. Often times it's a RB because a lot of high schools have little intention of passing so the center snap is essentially snap n run. Many fans played in an offense like that
I think we're all a bit too obsessed with trickery and what we know. It's what we do, I get it.

As I've said before, it's often times a battle for the sideline and to race up it as far as you can. The gunner is usually taken out and the guy inside him makes the play. Maybe the gunner pulls up and holds his spot next return. The return team wants (any position but acting as) a couple FBs smashing up the sideline as the returner follows.

It's just rarely elaborate and as drawn up on paper. That's the thing too. We all practiced a million kicks returns in school ball and rarely had a long gain.

It's all about that sideline
 
Touchbacks will likely dominate the NFL’s new kickoff

The XFL’s kickoff return was returned for an average position of 29 yards. The NFL moved the kickoff back five yards (along with a few other rule changes), so the expectation going into the season is that the starting field position spot will be around the 34-yard-line. Here’s the problem: The NFL didn’t adjust the penalty for a touchback to go along with that five-yard change, so touchbacks out the back of the end zone have a starting field position at the 30-yard-line...which could lead to just as many touchbacks as before.

If kicking teams are electing to allow return teams to field the ball, the main strategy is going to be a sort of long squib attempt. If a ball bounces inside the 20 and goes out of the end zone, the touchback simply goes to the 20-yard-line. Under XFL rules, there was a hangtime penalty that was enforced to prevent these “long squib” attempts, but the NFL didn’t adopt it.

So you’re going to see one of two plays with the NFL’s rules: A kick out of the back of the end zone or a long squib that could lead to teams actually using two returners on the field at the same time rather than just the single returner that we’re used to...

Florio claims that one coach told him that teams “will choose to kick out of the end zone at the outset of the season, so that the play can be studied based on the teams that choose to be the guinea pigs for it.”

In 2023, the average drive started at the 28.8 yard line. So not much sacrificed by just giving opponents a touchback at the 30.
Florio might be right on this particular subject, why not give up an extra yard or two as insurance against a big runback. At least until you see how it works out for the teams that take that chance.
 

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