NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers
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What do you think of this rule?

The NFL Competition Committee will be bringing its yearly rule changes for review next week. For any rule to pass, 24 of 32 owners must vote yes. Kyle broke down everything on the docket already, but one rule that has everyone’s attention is the NFL’s proposed Kickoff Rule.

It’s definitely a change, and it’s definitely a bit confusing when you read about it. Luckily, NFL Football Operations posted a nice video explaining the rule via graphics and making it a lot more sense.

For those of you who want a breakdown exactly of what the rule is, see below from NFL’s Operations page:

The Special Teams working group has proposed the following ideas as an alternative to the current kickoff play:

The ball is kicked from the A35 yard line (same as current rule)

Safety kicks would be from A20 yard line (same as current rule)


All kicking team players other than the kicker will line up with one foot on the receiving team’s B40 yard line

Kicker cannot cross the 50-yard line until ball touches the ground or player in landing zone or end zone

The 10 kicking team players cannot move until the ball hits the ground or player in the landing zone or the end zone

The receiving team will line up as follows:

Setup Zone – a 5-yard area from the B35 to the B30 yard line where at least 9 receiving team players must line up

At least 7 players with foot on the B35 yard line (restraining line) with alignment requirements (outside numbers, numbers to hashes, and inside hashes)

Players not on the restraining line must be lined up in setup zone outside the hash marks

All players in the setup zone cannot move until the kick has hit the ground or a player in the landing zone or the end zone

A maximum of 2 returners may line up in the landing zone and can move at any time prior to, or during, the kick


Landing zone is the area between the receiving team’s goal line and its 20-yard line.

Any kick that hits short of the landing zone – treated like kickoff out of bounds and ball spotted at B40 yard line; play would be blown dead as soon as kick lands short of the landing zone

Any kick that hits in the landing zone – must be returned

Any kick that hits in the landing zone and then goes into the end zone – must be returned or downed by receiving team – if downed then touchback to B20 yard line

Kick hits in end zone, stays inbounds – returned or downed – if downed then touchback to B35 yard line

Any kick that goes out of the back of the end zone (in the air or bounces) – touchback to B35 yard line


No fair catch or signal is allowed. Officials will blow the play dead

If conditions cause ball to fall off tee twice, then kicker will be allowed to use kicking stick to keep the ball in place. The closest covering official will pick up the stick immediately after the kick

Onside kick:

4th quarter begins, the team trailing has the opportunity to declare an onside kick to the officials

Current onside kickoff rules would apply. If onside kick goes beyond the setup zone untouched, kicking team penalized for UNS; return team would start the drive at the A20 yard line


The setup zone and landing zone will not change with any penalties that carry over to kickoffs. Alignment of 10 kickoff team players and all receiving team players would not change – only the spot of the kick would move

Penalties on scoring plays will not carry over and will be taken on the Try

Penalties on the Try may carry over, and if they do, only the placement of the kicker will change

Safety Kick:

The kick will be from the 20-yard line, and the kicker will have the option to use a tee; the setup zone and the landing zone will not change

Many of you are going to draw parallels to the XFL kickoff rule. I’m not going to argue that or go into it here, but it sure would have been a helluva lot easier if we had a world where they could just say that.

I digress. For all intents and purposes, this kickoff rule adds a lot more strategic elements and cards to play instead of the “He’s got a fast returner, kick it off the field/make him run it out” flip-flop we see in today’s NFL.

While on X, I found a post from someone showing the XFL running the similar rule and that gave me all sorts of questions to what the San Francisco 49ers could dial up with those speed demons they have.

I also wonder if that opens the door on more things Jake Moody could do.

What do you think of the rule? Do you think it will pass and ultimately add more excitement to the game?

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About the Author: Insidethe49

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