Around the NFL: New Rules for Kickoffs and Helmet Hits Approved, Super Bowl and Draft Sites Announced

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Around the NFL: New Rules for Kickoffs and Helmet Hits Approved, Super Bowl and Draft Sites Announced

Chicago Bears

News of the NFL’s new anthem policy dwarfed some other things that had been recently approved, which I wanted to dive into. You know, rules that have more relevance to the game itself, than what happens before it. Hence my bemusement when Commissioner Roger Goodell said he made the announcement in order to bring the focus back to the game and its fans. The timing of yesterday’s announcement did the exact opposite, so let’s dive into some important rule changes and news around the league.

New Kickoff Rules

League owners approved changes to kickoff that will be enacted in 2018, which feature some key changes. Among the highlights:

  1. Kickoff teams must have five players on each side of the ball, a rule that will impact onside kicks. No more loading up on one side and hoping for the best in a low-percentage situation.
  2. Kickoff teams can’t set up shop more than one yard away from the kicking point, which eliminates the five-yard running head start coverage units used to get.
  3. No wedge blocks allowed. Yes, that eliminates the two-man wedges that were permitted under the old rule.
  4. A kickoff that isn’t touched by a member of the receiving team that goes into the end zone is now automatically a touchback. In 2016, the Bills scored a touchdown on this kind of play. Never again.

Here’s a handy video explaining the new rules, which will be re-evaluated in 2019:

The new rules were made with player safety in mind, but they also change how special teams is played. It will be interesting to see how Chris Tabor and the rest of the league’s special teams coaches and coordinators adjust to these new rules. The hope is that these changes will result in fewer injuries in this particular phase of the game. But if they don’t, the league’s next step could be to eliminate kickoffs altogether. That would be a bold solution, and before I make a complete judgment on that, I’d like to see how it plays out in the Alliance of American Football league that kicks off in 2019.

The “Use of Helmet” Rule

Similar to college football’s targeting rule, violation of the NFL’s “Use of Helmet” rule could lead to an ejection. The NFL’s football operations department shared some tweets with images and explanations that could help us better understand what’s going on:

As for what it means for players, former NFL defensive back and current league football ops executive Troy Vincent were on the case quickly:

There is no easy way to write this, but just know things are going to be messy for the NFL when it comes to the helmet hit this year. There is no way around it. We’re looking at a drastic change and the league asking for players to change how they do things after being conditioned to hit a certain way for a long time. Couple that with the fact that players can’t simulate gameday tackling in practices, and we could be looking at some sloppy football in the early going in 2018.

Super Bowl Shuffling: Arizona, New Orleans Announced

University of Phoenix Stadium is home to the Arizona Cardinals and will play host to Super Bowl LVII – or 57, for those of you who aren’t into Roman numerals. The Cardinals will have completed $100 million worth of upgrades to the stadium by the time the Super Bowl rolls around.

The league also announced its 58th Super Bowl will be hosted by New Orleans. The Big Easy has been home to some remarkable title games over the years, including the Bears’ Super Bowl XX romp back in 1986. Here’s hoping we’re not waiting until the 2023 season to see Matt Nagy, Mitch Trubisky, and friends rolling into New Orleans for a shot at a championship.

And because you’re curious, here are the next four Super Bowl hosts: Atlanta (2019, LIII), Miami (2020, LIV), Tampa (2021, LV), Los Angeles (2022, LVI).

Speaking of the Atlanta-hosted Super Bowl, Vaughn McClure of ESPN Atlanta reports that the league wants the retractable roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium open for the big game. Weather permitting, of course.

Nashville is on the Clock

Because it’s apparently never too early to dive into NFL Draft matters, we now know which city will be hosting the three-day event. Nashville will host the 2019 NFL Draft, but Larry Flowers of reports the city has its eyes set on a bigger prize. Nashville hopes to host a Super Bowl one day, but authorities on Nashville’s Sports Council know some things need to get done before it happens. At the top of the to-do list is a new stadium, and probably one that comes with a dome.

“Right now I think a domed stadium will be required or needed to host three events given either the time of year or the climate control nature of some of these aspects, so maybe down the road,” said council member Scott Ramsey.

Nissan Stadium, the home of Tennessee Titans football, is 20 years old. You might remember it better as the Adelphia Coliseum, where the Music City Miracle took place:

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.