Belichick and the new KO rule

DJnVa

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http://sports.yahoo.com/news/bill-belichick-isnt-bending-to-nfl-kickoff-rule-and-others-may-follow-suit-001819719.html

I got a push notification on my phone about this story with the amazingly shitty headline of (paraphrasing) "Belichick eschews player safety on kickoffs"

Courtesy of a field goal, the New England Patriots had just taken a 23-21 lead against the Arizona Cardinals with less than four minutes remaining in Sunday’s game.

The ensuing kickoff was next. It’s a play the NFL is trying to, if not eliminate, at least minimize due to safety concerns. Having 11 players charge down a field and collide with 11 others – blockers or ball carrier – makes the kickoff one of football’s most dangerous plays. This decade the league has implemented rules to make touchbacks more common, mostly by moving the kickoff spot up to make it easier to boot the ball in, or through, the end zone. As such, violent contact becomes more rare.
 

speedracer

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It really is amazing how rulesmakers and legislators of all stripes are unable to think one move ahead.
 

simplyeric

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Seriously. Isn't it like the one of the first things that people here thought of when we read the rule?
"Oh, people might try to kick it a little short"
 

Stitch01

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"We want more touchbacks. Lets make them less valuable to the team that can best elminate touchbacks"
 

koufax32

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In what world would changing touch backs to the 25 cause fewer returns? All jokes aside about the mental faculties of Park Ave. I can only assume that the purpose of the rule change was to increase scoring. Any statements about wanted to affect player safety must therefore be nothing but lip service.

That said, why were other teams not coaching pop ups? Were there others? I'm personally waiting for BB/Ghost to roll out the duck snort pop up that lands around the 15 yard line either forcing a blocker to make a fair catch or causing the most violent on sides kick ever. Good idea for a playoff game. If it happened against BAL it would have the extra benefit of John Harbaugh's head exploding.
 

BaseballJones

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I think the idea was that the kick return team, taking one four yards deep into the end zone, would be less likely to take it out because now they have to get to the 26 to make it worth it instead of just the 21.

Of course, the NFL didn't take into consideration how the kicking team might adapt to this new rule.
 

kenneycb

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It's been in college for a few years so you have a proxy. Obvious caveats about college v. pro kickers but there's at least available data to point to.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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If they want more touchbacks simply eliminate the kick off and start the team getting the ball at their own 20 yard line. Problem solved. Of course the NFL would never do that because the sequence between the return and the team starting its drive offers valuable time to sell mobile data plans, insurance and erectile dysfunction medicine.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I didn't see much of other games this week, were other teams doing the same thing? I'm not sure all 31 other kickers can be as accurate and effective as Ghost can. So what are we talking about with regards to total effectiveness of the rule? I'm sure there's a place to find touchback percentage stats I'm just not sure where to find it or if one week says a whole lot either way.
 

Byrdbrain

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What BBJ says is correct that was the thinking of the NFL.
As far as why everyone isn't doing it I think it just comes down to risk. You can have your kicker boot it into the endzone and take no risk or you can take a chance that the guy may break one and then wouldn't you look stupid.
BB doesn't give a shit what you think so he has no problem trying to pin the other team. In some cases I'm sure he will kick away but in cases like the one above of course he is going to try and take every advantage.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I get the sense there are a lot of really fucking dumb people in the NFL.

There is stuff Belichick does that truly does warrant the credit he gets but this one was shooting fish in a barrel. Having a kicker with the talent to execute the play and kicking in a dome certainly helped but this is hardly rocket science.
 

Rheal With Cheese

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If they really wanted to lower kickoff numbers they should have made it 5 yards the other way and touchback at the 15. Teams would be doing everything to draft guys to boot it out of the end zone.

I always felt like punt returns are more dangerous w blind side hits and people getting treatment on field after play - but that's probably anecdotal- but I guess the Dennis Byrd type injuries are more common on kickoffs...yet we haven't seen one in a while.

Removing the kickoff variable is unexciting so I'm selfishly glad to see its backfiring. I always thought the illegal contact enforcement led to a lot more shots on defenseless receivers since the perfectly timed hit became one of the few viable pass breakup possibilities. Can the nflpa sue Polian before I pass?
 

ernieshore

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BB talked about this a little in his Breakdown this week. He said he has the kicker aim inside the 10 (IIRC) and the numbers painted on the field. He also thinks you are fairly likely to get a penalty called on the receiving team.

It seems like the new Rugby-type kick would be something a kicker could easily add on to his practice routine during OTA's, training camp, etc.

Just another simple reason why Bill is the best.
 

Rook05

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Even if most teams just kick it out the back of the endzone now, I suspect colder weather will shorten the lengths and result in more kick off returns. There was some quote this week about the NFL giving the new rule at least four weeks to see how it goes but I wouldn't be surprised if they made a change this season after more teams try to follow suit with the Pats.
 

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They are committed to the rule for this season only. In March of 2017 the Competition Committee will vote on whether or not to continue the rule.
 

edmunddantes

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I think Bill (or any smart coach) won't always kick it short. Some of the games will have explosive kick returners, and they'll want to limit touches. Or maybe conserve 5-6 seconds of time by avoiding a run back.

There are a ton of permutations.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out, but I think it'll ultimately end up with more returns.
 

Harry Hooper

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Kudos to Mooch for this post in the old 2016 rule changes game thread:

I'm sure that Belichick has Ghost practicing his kickoffs inside the 5 yard line this offseason. Given the Pats excellent gunners, this is a rule change that the Pats will exploit HEAVILY.
I still wonder why BB didn't have Ghost doing this even before the rule change.
 

Fishercat

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I was honestly surprised it didn't happen when they moved up the kickoffs originally. Five less yards to kick and run allows for higher kicks. Having touchbacks at the 25 yard line makes the strategy a no brainer if a kicker can do it barring some very specific situations
 

dbn

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I think Bill (or any smart coach) won't always kick it short. Some of the games will have explosive kick returners, and they'll want to limit touches. Or maybe conserve 5-6 seconds of time by avoiding a run back.

There are a ton of permutations.

It'll be interesting to see how it plays out, but I think it'll ultimately end up with more returns.
Exactly. Game situation will surely play into the decision making. In the AZ game, they needed to prevent any points - TD or FG - so it made sense to risk the unlikely big return for the more-likely improved defensive field position. If they had just gone up by 2 scores, on the other hand, it would have been better to kick for the touchback - thus likely spotting them 5-10 more yards - than to risk a return for a TD which would have put AZ right back in the game.
 

TFP

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Of course if they really wanted to reduce returns the answer is that kicking it out the back of the end zone results in the ball at the 20 but a catch and kneel gets it at the 25. Both teams are incentivized to aim for the touchback.
 

Ed Hillel

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The coaching contrast was really on display when, after Collins' personal foul penalty on the extra point, Arians had his kicked boot the ball through the end zone on a kickoff from the 50. A pop up kick to the 10-15 may even force a fair catch. Hell, kicking the ball out of bounds anywhere between the endzone and 20 yard line places the ball on the 20, since the rule is 30 yards from the spot of the kick. Most head coaches don't even think of these things, and they're giving up free yardage. I bet the thoughts never crossed Arians' mind.

Actually, that's a question...hasn't the league still been putting the ball at the 40 when the ball is kicked out of bounds? Shouldn't it be the 35 with the ball moved up, or was part of the amended rule that the ball is still placed at the 40?
 

Vandalman

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Time to dust off the Greg Schiano kickoff rule:

After a touchdown or field goal, the scoring team retains possession, getting the football on its own 30, facing fourth-and-15. The team either can go for it or punt it away. In effect, punts would replace kickoffs.
 

Rick Burlesons Yam Bag

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If they want more touchbacks simply eliminate the kick off and start the team getting the ball at their own 20 yard line. Problem solved. Of course the NFL would never do that because the sequence between the return and the team starting its drive offers valuable time to sell mobile data plans, insurance and erectile dysfunction medicine.
And lots of it.
 

mwonow

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The coaching contrast was really on display when, after Collins' personal foul penalty on the extra point, Arians had his kicked boot the ball through the end zone on a kickoff from the 50. A pop up kick to the 10-15 may even force a fair catch. Hell, kicking the ball out of bounds anywhere between the endzone and 20 yard line places the ball on the 20, since the rule is 30 yards from the spot of the kick. Most head coaches don't even think of these things, and they're giving up free yardage. I bet the thoughts never crossed Arians' mind.

Actually, that's a question...hasn't the league still been putting the ball at the 40 when the ball is kicked out of bounds? Shouldn't it be the 35 with the ball moved up, or was part of the amended rule that the ball is still placed at the 40?
I've seen fair catch on the kickoff mentioned a couple of times in this thread. Is that even allowed? Unlike a punt, a kickoff is a live ball as soon as it passes the 10 yard mark. Does the receiving team have the option of just waving a hand and taking that out of play? I would think that while the receiver can catch and turtle, the kicking team could do whatever it likes to disrupt the flight of the ball, including jumping for it and landing on whoever was standing below...
 

Bosoxen

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I've seen fair catch on the kickoff mentioned a couple of times in this thread. Is that even allowed? Unlike a punt, a kickoff is a live ball as soon as it passes the 10 yard mark. Does the receiving team have the option of just waving a hand and taking that out of play? I would think that while the receiver can catch and turtle, the kicking team could do whatever it likes to disrupt the flight of the ball, including jumping for it and landing on whoever was standing below...
Yes it is.
 

DanoooME

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I've seen fair catch on the kickoff mentioned a couple of times in this thread. Is that even allowed? Unlike a punt, a kickoff is a live ball as soon as it passes the 10 yard mark. Does the receiving team have the option of just waving a hand and taking that out of play? I would think that while the receiver can catch and turtle, the kicking team could do whatever it likes to disrupt the flight of the ball, including jumping for it and landing on whoever was standing below...
The reason that onside kicks can get attacked more is because the ball is kicked into the ground first. If there is a "pop-up" kick, any player can call for a fair catch and get that protection. That's why onside kicks happen the way they do.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Time to dust off the Greg Schiano kickoff rule:

After a touchdown or field goal, the scoring team retains possession, getting the football on its own 30, facing fourth-and-15. The team either can go for it or punt it away. In effect, punts would replace kickoffs.
You would need a visionary, Pete Rozelle type commissioner to try this. And we don't have one, sadly.
 

mwonow

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The reason that onside kicks can get attacked more is because the ball is kicked into the ground first. If there is a "pop-up" kick, any player can call for a fair catch and get that protection. That's why onside kicks happen the way they do.
Thanks - I didn't realize that
 

Hoodie Sleeves

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The coaching contrast was really on display when, after Collins' personal foul penalty on the extra point, Arians had his kicked boot the ball through the end zone on a kickoff from the 50. A pop up kick to the 10-15 may even force a fair catch. Hell, kicking the ball out of bounds anywhere between the endzone and 20 yard line places the ball on the 20, since the rule is 30 yards from the spot of the kick. Most head coaches don't even think of these things, and they're giving up free yardage. I bet the thoughts never crossed Arians' mind.

Actually, that's a question...hasn't the league still been putting the ball at the 40 when the ball is kicked out of bounds? Shouldn't it be the 35 with the ball moved up, or was part of the amended rule that the ball is still placed at the 40?
Rules digest definitely says 30 yards from the kick, but my memory is telling me they've been putting them at the 40 regardless.
 

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The reason that onside kicks can get attacked more is because the ball is kicked into the ground first. If there is a "pop-up" kick, any player can call for a fair catch and get that protection. That's why onside kicks happen the way they do.
This is true.....BUT...one of the worst instances of alignment between the rule book and the implementation comes when the ball is not held tightly on the ground. Technically, per the rulebook, once a player exerts any downward pressure on the ball while they are on the ground and being touched, the play should be dead and that player retains possession. Of course.....it's never called that way and you get all of the silliness with the pile et al.
 

DJnVa

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Rules digest definitely says 30 yards from the kick, but my memory is telling me they've been putting them at the 40 regardless.
When have you seen this? Because according to nflpenalties.com there hasn't been an accepted penalty for a kickoff out of bounds sine 2013.

http://www.nflpenalties.com/penalty/kickoff-out-of-bounds?year=2015

Go in and change the year.

Onside kicks are kicked again with a 5 yard penalty, so now they are kicking from 30, so it is possible that if 2 in row went out of bounds, the receiving team takes the ball at the 40 because that is 30 yards from where the team kicked off from after the 5 yard penalty--or they can take it where it went OOB, and it's not an accepted penalty.
 

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Thinking about the Antonio Brown penalty for twerking, one effect of the new rule is that if you're a coach who wants to pin the opposing team deep and you have the right coverage team, you should encourage players to celebrate excessively so that your kickoff is from the 20.
 

Sox and Rocks

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Thinking about the Antonio Brown penalty for twerking, one effect of the new rule is that if you're a coach who wants to pin the opposing team deep and you have the right coverage team, you should encourage players to celebrate excessively so that your kickoff is from the 20.
This is precisely what happened in the Raider/Saints game. Crabtree was flagged for unsportsmanlike celebration (a questionable call, at best) after the Raiders converted the two point conversion. However, with Janokowski's leg, he still kicked it to about the 5 yard line, and the Raiders stopped the Saints at about the 15, which saved the Raiders yardage and ran time off the clock as opposed to a touchback. You can argue that the flag was as big as the two point conversion in preserving the win.
 

Sox and Rocks

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Someone upthread asked if other coaches/teams were using this strategy of kicking the ball short, and from what I saw this weekend, the answer is yes, most teams are doing the same thing the Pats did.

The difference, of course, as usual, is that the Pats seemed to execute said kickoff strategy better than most teams. The headline for the linked article is incredibly misleading.
 

Super Nomario

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Thinking about the Antonio Brown penalty for twerking, one effect of the new rule is that if you're a coach who wants to pin the opposing team deep and you have the right coverage team, you should encourage players to celebrate excessively so that your kickoff is from the 20.
The idea is not just where you're kicking to, but the trajectory of the kick. Backing up the kick might make it easier to kick right to the 5 or whatever, but harder to get the kind of hangtime that's going to let your coverage team get down there pin the opponent deep.

I checked before Monday's games and saw about six teams were trying to pin opponents deep. Return percentage was up from like 26% to 38% or something. I imagine this will take a few weeks to settle out, though; special teams coaches around the league will be looking closely at how other teams are approaching both the kickoffs and returns.
 

Bosoxen

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You would need a visionary, Pete Rozelle type commissioner to try this. And we don't have one, sadly.
And for the NFLPA to sign off on it. That would not only completely eliminate the rare kickoff specialist but would also reduce the value of place kickers. It would increase the value of punters but I have a feeling it would be a net loss for the players.

It's not exactly a huge consideration but it would be another variable.

Someone upthread asked if other coaches/teams were using this strategy of kicking the ball short, and from what I saw this weekend, the answer is yes, most teams are doing the same thing the Pats did.

The difference, of course, as usual, is that the Pats seemed to execute said kickoff strategy better than most teams. The headline for the linked article is incredibly misleading.
This is true. The Cowboys did this once or twice. Their kickoff coverage team sucks so they weren't able to execute it quite the way the Patriots did, but that wasn't for lack of good placement by Bailey.
 

bowiac

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And for the NFLPA to sign off on it. That would not only completely eliminate the rare kickoff specialist but would also reduce the value of place kickers. It would increase the value of punters but I have a feeling it would be a net loss for the players.
Total salaries to the players are zero sum based on the CBA, so I don't think the "net loss" issue would be an issue. You could have issues due to distribution concerns however.
 

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When have you seen this? Because according to nflpenalties.com there hasn't been an accepted penalty for a kickoff out of bounds sine 2013.

http://www.nflpenalties.com/penalty/kickoff-out-of-bounds?year=2015

Go in and change the year.

Onside kicks are kicked again with a 5 yard penalty, so now they are kicking from 30, so it is possible that if 2 in row went out of bounds, the receiving team takes the ball at the 40 because that is 30 yards from where the team kicked off from after the 5 yard penalty--or they can take it where it went OOB, and it's not an accepted penalty.
When have you seen this? Because according to nflpenalties.com there hasn't been an accepted penalty for a kickoff out of bounds sine 2013.

http://www.nflpenalties.com/penalty/kickoff-out-of-bounds?year=2015

Go in and change the year.

Onside kicks are kicked again with a 5 yard penalty, so now they are kicking from 30, so it is possible that if 2 in row went out of bounds, the receiving team takes the ball at the 40 because that is 30 yards from where the team kicked off from after the 5 yard penalty--or they can take it where it went OOB, and it's not an accepted penalty.
This can't be correct - maybe because teams don't accept the penalty, it just gets placed at the 40 by rule?? (that is a guess) - the Eagles had at least one instance of it in their games last season.
 

Ed Hillel

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This can't be correct - maybe because teams don't accept the penalty, it just gets placed at the 40 by rule?? (that is a guess) - the Eagles had at least one instance of it in their games last season.
If they don't accept the penalty, it's placed where the ball goes out of bounds. That's what happens when onsides kicks go out. There's either some rule associated with the new kickoff rules that overrides the old 30-yard rule or nobody's been paying attention.
 

DJnVa

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If they don't accept the penalty, it's placed where the ball goes out of bounds. That's what happens when onsides kicks go out. There's either some rule associated with the new kickoff rules that overrides the old 30-yard rule or nobody's been paying attention.
There's no new rule. NFL rules digest says 30 yards, but onside kicks are kicked again and if it happens again they can take it where it goes out of bounds, which will generally be around the kicking team's 45 or so.
 

Ed Hillel

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There's no new rule. NFL rules digest says 30 yards, but onside kicks are kicked again and if it happens again they can take it where it goes out of bounds, which will generally be around the kicking team's 45 or so.
That part of the rule is really confusing because in practice teams kicking onsides don't get a second chance when the ball goes out of bounds. The receiving team declines the penalty and gets it at the spot it goes out on the first attempt. I don't quite understand what the rule is referencing there.
 

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There is an option to add a second rule that would help them. Make the ball down automatically on crossing the goal line the same way as a punt is. If they really want to encourage touchbacks it would be a big help, now you need to drop it outside the 5 likely to avoid the endzone, making it harder to stop the opponent short of the 25.
 

TFP

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A ball isn't down automatically in the end zone on a punt. The receiving team can elect to take it out of the end zone, they just never do.
 

RFDA2000

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The big difference being that a KO is a free ball once it hits the ground, whereas a punt is not. So the receiving team can let it bounce into the end zone on a punt, and given the logistics of punting vs kicking off, that is almost always the smarter play.