The NFL announced a potential change to the kickoff rule earlier this week. The idea is a part of a package that includes 10 rule changes. The proposal will be voted on at the Annual League Meeting next week. The NFL kickoff rule proposal brings an entirely new style to the league. The Packers will need to adjust to this change. It will be interesting to see their approach. Especially since the Packers re-signed All-Pro Keisean Nixon and considered his kick return ability as a competitive advantage.

The NFL kickoff rule proposal requires the kicking team’s 10 players (minus the kicker) to line up at the receiving team’s 40 yard line. The kickoff will remain at the opposite 35 yard line. The rule includes two new zones, the “setup zone” and the “landing zone”. The receiving team will line up nine players in the “setup zone” between the 35 and 30 yard line. Two returners will line up in the “landing zone”, between the 20 yard line and the goal line.

The players on either team, besides the kicker and the two returners, will not move until the ball is caught or hits the ground. It is worth noting that touchbacks are moving from the 25 yard line to the 35 yard line. The NFL proposed the rule change with the hope of increasing the rate of kickoff returns. The change will hopefully reduce the risk of injury as well. This rule is very similar to the XFL’s version. It will be interesting to see whether or not the owners vote to approve or deny this proposal.

Keisean Nixon Unphased by the NFL Kickoff Rule

As previously mentioned, the Green Bay Packers resigned Keisean Nixon last week. Nixon signed a 3 year, $18M deal. Nixon is a two time First Team All-Pro. He received this honor due to his skills in the kick return game. Keisean Nixon is well-known around the NFL as an electric returner. He took to twitter yesterday to express his opinion on the new rule change.

Nixon does not appear to be overly concerned that this new rule proposal will affect his game. The Packers and Special team Coordinator Rich Bisaccia highly value Nixon. The team is paying Nixon quite a bit of money. The Packers believe that Nixon can swing a game in their favor. Nixon broke off a 75 yard return against the 49ers in the Divisional Round. Thank goodness for Eric Wilson who recovered Nixon’s fumble at the end of the play. However, this return did lead to a Packers receiving touchdown caught by TE Tucker Craft.

Since the kicking team can not run while the ball is in the air, the assumption is it will be easier to set up blocks. The blocking will most likely be more man to man. Assuming blocks can be held, opportunities for Nixon will open up. The Packers will be tasked to build a kick return team filled with players who can block. It will be interesting to see how the Packers approach this change. If it does receive approval next week, Bisaccia will need to construct a strong plan of attack. The Packers want to design a kick return scheme that will allow Nixon to be the ultimate weapon.