Could the trickle down effect of the new kick-off rules affect the Jaguars team make-up?

new kick off rules

People tend to ignore Special Teams except when they score or lose you points; however, this season that’s about to change because fans will want to see how kick-offs help or hurt teams.

In case you missed it, Kickoff teams now must line up with five players on either side of the ball and only one yard off the line of scrimmage. They can’t having running starts and can’t start the previous five yards back (if they wish) to get a running start.

They must have at least two players outside the yard line number and at least two between the yard line number and the hash marks. Players on kick return teams can no longer perform wedge blocks. Once the ball lands in the end zone, it becomes a touchback, no matter the circumstances.

This more than likely will have smaller returners and quicker guys like Tyreek Hill. If kick-offs are now glorified punts, and returners are going to be the speedy little guys, does this make typical sized kick-off gunners obsolete?

If a quick little guy is catching, won’t it be easier to avoid a bigger, but slower gunner? Teams aren’t using Tyreek Hill sized guys to stop him, but now maybe they can because his speed could be stopped with a smaller CB who can match him.

Not to mention, since the returner is no longer being bull rushed by a speeding horde, how does that change the dynamic of teams? For many players, ST is how they get their start. How will tall fringe receivers get a chance to make the 53?

One can imagine that the big WR’s are going to need to be good enough to be starting material or else they waste a spot. Typically, WR3, 4, 5, 6 also play on ST. So, imagine you’ve got three WR’s over 6’2″ (we don’t), but these wide-outs aren’t great at one-on-one blocking, now what? They’re returning because their first step isn’t as quick as the smaller guys.

Does a team just keep only starting tall guys? If teams start doing that, what happens to corners? CB’s over the years have grown from being 5’8″ to 5’10” to over 6′ to stay up with 6’5″ WR’s and TE’s.

Will these tall backs now be too slow to cover smaller, quicker receivers? Also, players come from the college level where kick-offs remain and tall WR’s are the preferred option. Will there be a shortage of talent?

Or will colleges really focus on Usain Bolt type freaks of nature who are tall, but have a wicked quick first step? Spending time at track meets scouring for them?

Who knows how this changes the face of the NFL? Maybe it’s too much and they do away with kick-offs altogether and players only make teams based on depth at one position, not two.

One thing is for sure, crappy quarterbacks need tall guys (reach radius) and the veterans will make the loudest noise against these kick-offs if they see their receiving corps are full of guys under 6’0″. In return, fans may complain, too because their so-so QB now becomes dreadful without long-armed guys.

Does this make TE’s more or less valuable? Because they know how to block one on one and can catch, could we see teams with four WRs, five TE’s and/or five RB’s?

This then brings up catching running backs who are also good at blocking. RB’s by nature have a quick first step, could they be who starts returning both Kick-offs and punts? These sturdy guys know all about running between blockers. Find one who can catch well and you’re golden. Christan McCaffrey types.

The list of, what ifs, is long, I wonder if the NFL thought through all changes this one rule could affect? When ST coaches aren’t sure what’s going to happen, how do the suits in LA? Bottom line is, the 2018 season is going to be a giant mystery with the kick-offs and I don’t think week 1 shed a ton of light on it.

Why can Special Teams be such an issue?

Joe DeCamllis Special teams

When Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis went to Jacksonville and kicked ass here, it rankled Broncos fans. Their thoughts were, well, why couldn’t he do that in Denver?

Below was how Special Teams worked, going forward the change in punting rules will affect team rosters. Read here for more info on that. Also, keep in mind that every time a new Special Teams Coordinator is brought in, the returning ST players have to learn new language. That doesn’t help, either.

1) Special Teams Squad –

The STC is given the leftovers from the offense and defense. I say leftovers because you don’t see the likes of Jalen Ramsey and Marqise Lee on ST. Except for the kicker, punter and long snapper, many ST’s are made up of guys used for depth on O and D. GMs often aren’t drafting high a returner. Nor are they paying big bucks for vets. Too often, the stars in college aren’t picked up because they only have one talent.

2) TALENT –

This is separate from above because when rosters are made up, the O and D line coaches pound the table for more guys because they’re often hurt. This means a team could have 20 or more guys who play on the line. Often these same 20 are who’s active on game day. Who’s going to keep up with returners to block? Or run down their opponent’s returner if most of the ST guys are big and slow? This is often why teams have more DBs and TEs then they use -ST work.

3) GM/HC –

If you’re a team with a Defensive Line coach who’s been there for years and is strong willed, how much power to be heard do you think he has over some new coach? If you have a GM/HC who doesn’t see ST as any kind of priority, then one or both won’t set up the roster with them in mind.

4) TIME –

How much practice time do you think O and D coordinators want to give up to ST? These STC rarely get to pick their squad, and then don’t get much practice time.

5) GAME DAY ROSTERS –

ST could “practice” all week with their 13 or so guys and then the OC or DC decides not to dress one or more guys than the STC planned on. Now he’s stuck having to go to Plan B. Go back 1. Since ST rarely get starters, guess who is most likely not to dress out? Guys on ST.

I’m going to add something in here that also has a bearing on why some STC has been a swinging door: quarterbacking. If a team has an offense that can move down the field, and not have to punt almost every possession, there’s not as much pressure to make sure he starts with positive yards. Which leads to the defense needing less time on the field so the offense can have more chances to do something. This makes field position crucial.

To summarize, DeCamillis does well in Jacksonville because the GM and/or HC gave him more talent, time to work with them and less pressure to outperform the average.