The NFL isn't having a very good year. Not only are they inundated with scandals but the rules they implemented to reduce the number of kickoff returns failed to deliver in the preseason. Admittedly, looking at the online NFL betting odds, it doesn't seem like anyone expected the new rules to really work.
In fact, there are coaches who believe that the new rule (to place the football at the 25-yard line following a touchback on a kickoff) might actually ensure that more kickoffs are being returned as kicking teams alter tactics.
Not that the NFL is listening to any of these comments, instead choosing to simply wait and see the full extent of the consequences of the rule change. Dean Blandino, NFL's vice president of officiating, was quick to dismiss some of these worries, adding that preseason kick return numbers rarely translated to the regular season, if ever.
According to Blandino, the preseason lends itself to experimentation. Coaches want to evaluate their players, which is why the preseason sees more kick returns than the regular season.
Talk of eliminating the kickoff from the game of football continues to thrive, primarily because of all the injuries emerging as a result of high-speed collisions that occur during the kickoff.
For the moment, the NFL has yet to comment about the possibility of taking such a drastic decision, instead working to produce rules which increase the safety of the play. While it was unexpected, NFL fans were not particularly surprised when owners authorized a proposal to change the spot where the offense takes over following a touchback on a kickoff.
There is no guarantee that the rule change will persist, having being approved on a one-year trial basis. NFL owners will use the new season to determine whether or not the rule change has viability.
At the moment, the rule change is presenting quite the challenge for coaches and football players alike, with kicking teams experimenting with the idea of employing shorter kickoffs that land shy of the end zone.
Teams have been using the preseason to find new ways of circumventing the new rule, though, their success rate is still relatively low. At the moment, NFL owners are determined to simply sit back, wait and see what happens in the regular season.
Telling as the preseason might be, it doesn't accurately represent the results that one can expect from the regular season.
New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick recently pointed out all the directional kicking that was happening in preseason games. He also agreed that there was no way to know how things would play out until the regular season starts next weekend.
Bill also pointed out that teams were doing things in the preseason that they would never do in the regular season. The preseason encourages experimentation. Coaches are unlikely to take as many chances when the regular season begins.
At the moment, statistics suggest that the number of kick returns hasn't changed. It has neither increased nor decreased. Coaches that were expecting the NFL to react to the preseason figures will be disappointed. Everyone is waiting to see how the regular season will play out.