Dan Campbell is excited about kickoff return coming back to NFL

The NFL is revamping the kickoff, and the Lions coaches are excited about it.
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Among the rule changes the NFL adopted this week at the league meetings was a revamping of the kickoff, in an effort to bring the kickoff return back into the game while also making it a safe play without the high-speed collisions that previously made it such a dangerous play. It's the XFL's kickoff format, to put it plainly, as seen below.

The bullet point explanation is this;

  • There is now a “Kickoff Team’s Restraining Line” which forces everyone but the kicker on the kicking team to be 25 yards ahead of the kick—or the opponent’s 40-yard line on a normal kickoff from the 35-yard line. Each of those players must have their front foot on the line, the other foot on the ground, and they cannot move downfield until the kickoff is either caught or touches the ground.
  • There is a “Receiving Team’s Restraining Line” which is 5 yards beyond the kickoff team’s restraining line. Their own 35-yard line on a normal kickoff. The receiving team cannot advance beyond that until the ball is received or hits the ground.
  • There is a “setup zone” for the receiving team—where nine players from the receiving team must stay until the ball is received or hits the ground. That area is between the receiving team’s restraining line and 5 yards behind it. Or between the 30 and 35-yard line on normal kickoffs.
  • Normal” touchbacks result in the ball being placed at the 30-yard line
  • A touchback that bounces in the “landing zone” (goal line to the 20-yard line) and goes into the end zone puts the ball at the 20-yard line
  • No fair catches
  • Onside kicks permitted in the fourth quarter

It's worth noting the new kickoff is on a one-year trial.

Dan Campbell is fully embracing new kickoff format

Prior to the final vote, the Lions were in full support of the new kickoff format. During his talk with the media Tuesday morning at the league meetings, head coach Dan Campbell made it clear he's all in favor of it (h/t to Pride of Detroit).

"What I think has gotten a lot of people spooked a little bit is the unknown of it, and that’s what excites me,” Campbell said. “(Special teams coordinator Dave) Fipp and I already have been back there watching all these XFL clips.... So I think that’s the unknown is what the coaching is for. You get to mess with it. You get to tinker with it. You figure out what’s the best way to do it. How do you do it? So I’m excited about it.”

"It gives us a chance to play special teams, you know?” Campbell said. “What happened last year, you really felt like that took a significant number of plays out of the game, and those were from special teams. You don’t really make it up anywhere else. And so just we put an emphasis on it. I believe in it.”

The Lions last had kickoff return for a touchdown in September of 2019, when Jamal Agnew did it against the Philadelphia Eagles. Like every team, they did not return very many kickoffs last season (19 out of 83), but that number is about to rise a lot in 2024 (and likely beyond).

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