NEW ORLEANS -- NFL teams voted earlier on the various rule changes submitted by the competition committee. Here’s what went down:
- Kickoffs will take place from the 35-yard line (up from the 30). Touchbacks remain at the 20. Players on the kickoff team must be within 5 yards of the ball. Teams can still use a two-man wedge. Patriots voted for the rule.
- All scoring plays will be subject to confirmation by the replay booth, just like every play is within two minutes of the end of each half.
- Coaches can still get a third challenge if the first two were successful.
- Changes to the defenseless receiver rules were tabled until the May league meeting.
- All playing fields must be green in color.
- Procedural rule passed that eliminates the extension of a half after a 5- and 15-yard penalty enforcement that includes a deal ball personal foul against the defense.
Here is Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said his "alarm clock just didn't go off this morning," on the kickoff changes:
On why he was strong against it yesterday but voted for it
They were getting rid of the wedge, doing a lot of other stuff. Think this is a lot simpler. It’s clean.
On whether it will affect the number of returns
It will cut down some, sure. Statistically it will....Based on the numbers, I think we’re still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters. At the end of the year it goes down anyway. I mean, there’s a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season then there are at the end. The ball just doesn’t carry as far in the cold.