Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t seem too pleased with the NFL’s new kickoff rule.
League owners approved a rule change allowing the ball to be placed at the 25-yard line if a player calls for a fair catch during a kickoff or the kick after the safety. The player must be behind his own 25-yard line for the rule to apply.
LaFleur didn’t say much about the rule change when asked about it on Tuesday, but his frustration could be felt.
“I don’t really want to get into my personal thoughts on the rule, but we’ll adjust,” LaFleur said.
The Packers had the most return yards off kickoffs in the league last season and were fourth in kick return average. They were one of five teams to return a kickoff for a touchdown.
The NFL said that the health and safety of the players are reasons for the change. Kickoffs have been a hot topic in discussions surrounding concussions in recent years as a play that leads to a high volume of head injuries.
“The concussion rate on the play has gone up. It’s gone up because the ball is being returned more by kicks that are being hung inside the 5-yard line,” Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, said. “College made this rule change in maybe 2018 or 2019. We looked at their data and said, you know what, this is the right thing to do now.”
McKay and the league expect concussion rates to drop 15 percent due to the rule change.