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#pounditMonday, July 22, 2024

Chiefs considering big change to kickoffs in response to new rules

The helmet of the Kansas City Chiefs

Dec 27, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; A general view of a Kansas City Chiefs helmet before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are contemplating a big change to kickoffs in response to a big rule change the NFL made this offseason.

Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub told reporters Thursday that the team is genuinely considering having a non-kicker handle kickoff duties in 2024. Under the new rules, the Chiefs anticipate kickers being much more involved in tackles, and Toub wants to avoid Harrison Butker having to do too much of that.

“I’d like to have somebody that can go back and make a tackle. Butker’s able to make a tackle, but I really don’t want him making tackles all year long,” Toub said. “If you watched the XFL, we watched every play. Kickers were involved in at least 25 to 40 percent of the tackles. … We don’t want Butker in that situation.”

Toub said Butker would certainly get use on kickoffs, but perhaps not exclusively. Instead, the team might look to a player like safety Justin Reid, who has operated as an emergency kicker in the past.

“Justin can kick, and then he can go down there and make tackles. A guy like Justin is a guy they have to worry about,” Toub added. “Hangtime doesn’t matter at all now. Now it’s about accuracy, seeing what you’re getting, how the returners are lined up, trying to kick away from them to the corners, but you can’t take too much of a risk, because if you hit it out of bounds, now you’re giving the ball up at the 40.”

Under the new NFL rules, special teams players are not permitted to move essentially until the kickoff has been fielded. That gives kick returners more room to operate, and means kickers might be called upon much more frequently to make plays against them. The XFL used this format, and you can see an example of it here.

The Chiefs likely aren’t the only team considering a radical solution like this one. There will certainly be other changes that come about as a result of the new kickoff rules, but a solution like this one might be the most radical.

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