NFL approves fair catch change following kickoffs

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze the NFL's move to put the ball on the 25-yard line after fair catches on kickoffs and explore if this could lead to any unintended consequences.

Video Transcript

- The NFL, to the chagrin of special teams coaches everywhere, implemented the NCAA rule that gives the receiving team on a kickoff the ball at the 25 for a fair catch between the goal line and the 25. The idea, again, make the most dangerous play in football safer. How? By having fewer iterations of it.

So the next step in minimizing the kickoff, minimizing special teams, maximizing player safety by minimizing the kinds of collisions that can result in concussions, and I'm all for that. I just don't like the artificial ways that they're carving around it. Just get rid of the kickoff and come up with something else if you're going to play these games that are aimed at having fewer kick returns, Chris.

- I don't disagree with you totally there. I think this is the end of the kickoff and the kickoff return, basically. I would think that we're going to see the numbers dramatically fall down now because of this rule. One of the reasons teams looked at it, wait, I'm going to catch the ball at the 3-yard line, right? I don't want a fair catch it. We know we can get to the 20 from there. So we're going to do that and see what else more we can get. Maybe we can get a good return and get to the 30.

Now they're going to be more of like, hey, 25 is good. Damn. All we need to do is get about 30 yards and we're in field goal position here for most kickers in the NFL. So that's where it changes it. And yeah, I think that's almost the death of the kickoff and the kick return right there.

- But then comes the Bill Belichick twist. I talked about this yesterday with the third quarterback rule. How will the smart coaches try to take this to their advantage? And one of the arguments against it is now you will see special teams coordinators and head coaches telling their kickers to squib it more often, to try to kick the ball in a way that makes it in play, harder to handle. What if you try to-- just some kind of a unconventionally kicked ball that you try to fair catch and you muff it. So it may have some unintended consequences, and it could get interesting if we see some creative coaches try to do different things.

- I think so, may. But I don't know. The squib kick's tough. Kickers don't have great control, right? We've seen a lot of teams who've got away from the squib kick at the end of the game, right? Because they kick it into somebody and you go, oh no, now they have the ball at midfield. So I think that would be risky.