As mentioned Monday, the NFL was was using this week's owners meetings in New Orleans as an opportunity to not only discuss the ongoing labor situation, but also to propose some new rules. The NFL's Competition Committee made its proposals and on Tuesday, the owners voted. Here are the changes you'll see as part of a modified kickoff proposal reportedly passed by the league's owners the next time there's an NFL game (whenever that may be):
- Kickoffs will be moved from the 30 to the 35-yard line (important to note: touchbacks will continue to start from the 20-yard line and two-man wedges are still allowed)
- The replay official will be allowed to review all scoring plays at any time, without a coach using a challenge (coaches still get a third challenge if they win two challenges)
- The NFL passed a rule stating the league must approve the color of the field and that it has to be a shade of green; nicknamed "The Boise Rule"
The kickoff change will results in more touchbacks, which means fewer returns, which means fewer players getting injured (in theory). And for a team like the Patriots, which has a very good kicker in Stephen Gostkowski, it's a rule change that could greatly benefit them. Even Bill Belichick, who spoke out against the original proposal on Monday, was pleased with Tuesday's rule change since it did not eliminate the two-man wedge.
"Yeah, it's going back to where it was," Belichick said. "Yeah, we voted for it. It's fine. It's not that big of a deal. We have a good kicker, it's all right."
"It'll cut down some, sure," he said. "Statistically it will. Based on the numbers, I think you're still looking at least two thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three quarters. At the end of year, it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks at the beginning of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold. It just doesn't go as far."