How the New Kickoff Rules Impact the New York Giants


How the New Kickoff Rules Impact the New York Giants

With new kickoff rules being put in place, the New York Giants will face a new way of handling kickoffs.

New York Giants special teams coordinator Michael Ghobrial continues to be fascinated by the new kickoff return rule implemented for this year.


The rule requires a setup zone and landing zone and an alignment change for blockers that make kick returns more similar to a run play.


Ghobrial, who has been trying to navigate the change in planning schemes and personnel, compared the return game to that of an offensive running play.


“The NFL has taken the speed and space out of it, and there is just less space to get as creative with your blocking schemes as you would think,” he said.


This offseason, the Giants put an emphasis on adding offensive linemen and tight ends to the roster. Turns out that an influx of talent at those positions could very well benefit the Giants on kickoff returns.



The UFL, which runs the rule, has seen players with straight-line speed find success as return men due to the running start they can get after fielding the kick. It also seems that running backs, as opposed to smaller receivers and/or cornerbacks, will be asked to handle the return duties.


For the Giants, rookie running backs Tyrone Tracy Jr. and Dante Miller are potential contributors in the return game. I’m more skeptical about the transition for Tracy and Miller making the transition due to the rules being new to them as well, but running backs should be at an early advantage.


On the kicking side, the Kansas City Chiefs have toyed with the idea of using safety Justin Reid as an occasional kicker since the new rules will likely throw kickers into the mix defensively.


“Ultimately, you want to have a kicker that can make sure he’s placing it in the right spot, where it’s supposed to go and all that,” said Ghobrial, who has not indicated if he’s considering something similar regarding Graham Gano.


The Giants obviously don’t want to put Gano at risk of injury defending a kickoff, but if they value proper placement over anything else, it’s hard not to envision Gano on the kickoff unit.


Ghobrial, in dropping clues into his thought process about how the kickoff return team might look, mentioned block deconstruction, pursuit angles, and disengage. Operating in space defensively leads me to believe that more linebackers will play a role on kickoff duties.

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