Moments ago the NFL completed its vote to change the way kickoffs are handled in the game. The proposal passed. It was, however, a different version of the one first proposed by the competition committee. Early reports suggest that the approved version contains the changes discussed yesterday afternoon. How will kickoffs now look in the NFL?
Under the new rule, the ball will be moved up to the 35-yard line. It was at the 30-yard line last season. A compromise was struck with regards to touchbacks. The initial proposal called for touchbacks to be moved out to the 25-yard line, but the compromise draft just passed will leave touchbacks at the 20-yard line.
The new rule will also prevent players on the coverage unit from lining up more than 5 yards from the ball. It also keeps the two-man wedge.
It should be obvious that there will be more touchbacks with the ball on the 35-yard line; however, the new rule will not completely take away the return game, which was the original bone of contention among coaches and fans. Emphasis on completely. To be sure, it will limit the number of kickoffs, decreasing the value of coverage players and return men. Still, it's the unintended consequences of these sorts of changes that really matter, and we won't know those for a while.
Two other rule changes passed today include a big one for instant replay. All scoring plays will now be subject to a both review. Another rule change, all fields have to be a shade of green, subject to NFL approval.