Kickers Hungry for Points: New Rule Proposal Sparks Intrigue


The NFL’s recent kickoff rule changes have sparked a debate, and Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson has a unique perspective on the matter.

McPherson’s Rule Proposal

McPherson suggests a rule tweak that would award teams four points for kicking the ball through the uprights on a kickoff. Conversely, if the ball misses, the opposing team would get possession at the 30-yard line.

NFL History

Points for kickoffs have been discussed before, with Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh advocating for one-point awards in 2016. He suggested that it would make successful kickoffs by kickers like Justin Tucker even more impactful.

Kickoff Mechanics and Dynamics

Kickers are permitted to take a running start from the 35-yard line for kickoffs. In many instances, they are able to drive the ball through the uprights, which currently has no scoring benefit.

The XFL Influence

The NFL’s new kickoff rule draws inspiration from the XFL’s concept of a specialized teams play. In the XFL, the ball is kicked from the 35-yard line and the kicking team lines up at the opposing 40-yard line.

Return Team Setup

The return team can have nine blockers set up between the 30- and 35-yard lines, with at least seven of them touching the 35-yard line. Only two returners can be located inside their own 20-yard line.

Kickoff Sequence

Only the kicker and two returners can move until the ball touches the ground or is caught by a returner. If the kick reaches the end zone, the return team can opt for a touchback or attempt a return.

Kicker’s Adaptation

McPherson acknowledges that the new rule will necessitate changes in his game. He may need to develop tackling skills to complement his kicking abilities. He expresses concern that it detracts from the specialized skills that kickers possess.

Rule Evaluation

The kickoff rule will be trialled in the 2024 season and reviewed in 2025. It remains to be seen how it will affect the game and whether McPherson’s proposed scoring rule will gain traction.

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