Multiple sources are reporting via Twitter that the NFL Competition Committee has voted to change the rules on kickoffs for the 2011 season. They’ve also made some changes to instant replay.
Currently kickoffs happen on the 30-yard line. The new rule will move the ball up to the 35-yard line, making it easier for kickers to boot the ball in the endzone which will inevitably lead to more touchbacks.
We first heard about a potential rule change a few days ago. It was originally being reported that along with moving the ball to the 35-yard line, a touchback would give the receiving team the ball at the 25-yard line as opposed to the 20. This would give the receiving team even more incentive to stay in the endzone instead of attempting a return.
While the changes to kickoffs have been implemented, the committee voted that touchbacks will remain on the 20.
I guess the NFL doesn’t like exciting kickoff returns. Call me crazy but it sounds like the NFL just voted to make the game a little more boring. Don’t’ get it.
More rule changes after the jump.
Another rule change that has gone into effect involves instant replay. Starting in 2011, all scoring players will be reviewable at the discretion of the officials.
Currently a booth official review all plays during the last two minutes of each half and coaches cannot challenge. If the booth official thinks a play needs further review, the officials on the field take another look.
Now it appears that close scoring plays will be given a second look, meaning coaches will not have to use their challenges.
This is a common sense move by the NFL. Scoring plays, particularly back of the endzone grabs by receivers struggling to get their feet down, should always be reviewed. This new rule will likely prevent games getting slowed down by desperate coaches throwing the red flag after their opponent scores. If the play needs reviewed, it will be reviewed.
Looks like the NFL is 1-2 today. Hope you like touchbacks.