Speaking about the potential change before Thursday night's Raiders-Broncos game in Oakland, Calif., the commissioner said, "I thought it was an interesting idea. The committee will look at it."
A radical change, indeed, but the game always moves forward with different rule changes as it evolves.Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the NFL's competition committee would consider in the offseason replacing the kickoff. The league previously had moved the kickoff from the 30- to 35-yard line to cut down on violent collisions.
Goodell and Rich McKay, the head of the league's competition committee, discussed an idea brought up by Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano in which a team, instead of kicking off, would get the ball at its own 30-yard line in a fourth-and-15 situation. The team then would punt the ball away or, to replace an onside kick, could go for it and, if it failed to get a first down, the opposing squad would start with great field position.
I like this idea - the chances of picking up 15 yds in one play vs recovering an on-side kick are probably close (I don't know for sure, just guessing) but the penalty for not converting would be significant (just like not recovering the on-side kick). And the punter can probably get the ball back inside the 10, giving the returner plenty of room to catch it and start a run-back since the kicking team would not get the "head start" they get on conventional punts (leaving at the snap).
I guess in the eyes of the NFL, punt returns are much safer than kickoff returns?