The Kickoff Has Been Restored

loss at San Francisco
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Over the past few seasons, the NFL has worked to make the game a safer version of what it had become. In doing so, the kickoff had all but been removed from the game. The new changes bring it back, and in a way that may be better than ever.

The Kickoff Has Been Restored

When the NFL owners met to approve rule changes for the upcoming 2024 season, the hip-drop tackle being removed drew plenty of attention. It is frustrating for defensive players to continually need to change their approach. Unsurprisingly, that sentiment was echoed throughout responses, but it was the kickoff that received an even bigger overhaul.

Rather than lining up to simply watch the ball sail through the end zone, a realistic return game returns to the sport. Looking to the XFL for insight as to how a play should be handled is somewhat comical, but when the execution is this strong, it’s pretty straightforward as to why the league would be doing it.

Special teams players have been some of the most unheralded heroes on rosters over the years, but we haven’t seen anyone show off Devin Hester-like excitement for some time now. Players like Cordarrelle Patterson have been forced to find other ways to impact the game, and that has made it less straightforward to fully utilize a player’s skillset.

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Not long after the rule change was announced, the Pittsburgh Steelers came to an agreement with the aforementioned Patterson, and while that may be a coincidence, it gives both parties another way to utilize his abilities. Patterson has been one of the best returners in league history, and he’ll have an opportunity to experiment with the new rules before showcasing his abilities when the games start.

How the new kickoff rules actually change the game remains to be seen. Of course, we’ll get more action on the play, but teams will need to gameplan how they can execute breaking off long runs. The collisions should be less fierce, given the lack of running start for both sides, but busting through a hole should still be something you can anticipate and lead to entertaining outcomes.

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It may look odd at first, but this new kickoff change could be among the best things the league has done in years.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.