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Automatic Replays for All Scoring Plays

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Old 03-24-2011, 01:04 PM   #31
sportscurmudgeon's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3,159
Re: Automatic Replays for All Scoring Plays

Forget an onsides kick for the moment; there are rules that apply to those plays and those seem not to be considered for change. I want to think about rules changes for "ordinary kickoffs"

On "ordinary kickoffs" there are only 4 possibilities as to where the ball ends up:

1. Out of bounds
2. In bounds outside the goal line
3. In the end-zone
4. Out the back end of the end-zone.

The idea seems to be that the league wants to reduce injuries incurred on kickoff plays by restricting the speed at which players collide on those plays. Whether or not they can succeed in that undertaking remains to be seen, but that seems to be the intent.

Fans - - and some players and coaches too - - fear that kickoffs will be legislated out of the game so let's take a look at the four possibilities above and see if there is a way to achieve both ends.

1. Kick off from the 35-yardline but do not allow the kick coverage team more than a 5-yard running start. That will slow down some of the impacts on blocks in advance of the returner.

2. Require the kicking team to have 5 players standing upright between the 45 and 50 yardlines and those players cannot leave that zone of the field until the ball has passed over their heads - - or by their feet if the kick is a squibb kick. That will create less possibility for massing of blockers in front of the returner meaning less need for "wedge busting".

3. With regard to ball placement on touchbacks, make the kicking team decide what it wants to do in terms of preventing a return versus giving up field position.
a. If a kickoff goes out of the end-zone on the fly, the ball is put at the 20-yardline. (Possibility #4 above)

b. If the ball goes out of bounds, put the ball on the 40-yardline. (Possibility #1 above)

c. If the ball is kicked such that it lands in the end-zone on the fly - - but not out the back of the end zone on the fly - - put the ball on the 30-yardline. (Possibility #3 above)

d. If the ball lands in the field of play and the return team allows it to go into the end zone without returning it, put the ball at the 10-yardline.
Kicking teams can either go for a long kick to get the ball out of the end zone or risk having the ball come out to the 30-yardline if the ball were to land in the end zone before bouncing over the backliine.

Return teams have to defend against the kickoff team hitting a line drive kick that lands inbounds and then scoots into the end-zone (and/or over the line) and choosing not to return it thereby putting the ball on the 10-yardline. That means there will have to be at least two players deep on the kickoff reducing the potential for mass blocking situations.

I'd like to see the league try these rules in a few of the exhibition games and then tweak them before trying them in real games. But these rules would seem to meet everyone's objectives AND it would make the kickoffs more strategic.

Just random thoughts while waiting for the lawyers to submit their monthly tallies of billable hours to the league and to the union...
The Sports Curmudgeon
But don't get me wrong, I love sports...
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