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#pounditThursday, May 23, 2024

Bill Belichick shares 1 big change teams will have to make with new kickoff rules

Bill Belichick during a Patriots game

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks on the field before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has made some major changes to its kickoff format, and Bill Belichick says rosters could look a lot different next season because of it.

Belichick was a guest on “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday. The former New England Patriots coach discussed a wide range of topics, including the NFL’s decision to adopt an XFL-style kickoff. Belichick, who has always emphasized the importance of special teams, shared one significant adjustment he believes teams will make because of the new rules.

Under the new kickoff rules, 10 players on the kicking team and at least 9 players on the receiving team must line up 5 yards apart from one another. The 10 players on the kicking team will line up at the receiving team’s 40-yard line. The non-returners on the return team will line up in the “setup zone” between their own 35- and 30-yard line. That will eliminate running starts, which Belichick says will place a greater emphasize on speed and strength than size.

“With the new kickoff rules, because there’s really no running involved, the kicking team’s already down there and the return team’s already set up, there will be more of an emphasis on size players in the return game than speed,” Belichick said. “A lot of teams would cover with six or seven DB/wide receiver types with their kickoff unit and play with the same type of players on the kickoff return — a couple of corners and a couple of wide receivers on the front line that could run and get back and set up. Well, now, there’s no need for that. You just need guys who can play at the point of attack and shed blocks and defend their space because of the new alignment. So I think it’ll increase the size of the players that are on the field.”

Belichick believes the new rules will impact the “bottom part” of NFL rosters because less speed will be needed on special teams. The 72-year-old also predicted that we will see more big returns since kick returners will have more space to operate. You can hear Belichick’s full analysis:

If you want to see what the new kickoffs will look like, this video helps illustrate it.

Just over 20% of kickoffs were returned last season, which the NFL viewed as a big problem. The new kickoff rules should change that significantly.

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