After many gruesome injuries, the NFL has finally decided to change the kickoff rules. This new rule eliminates the kicking team barreling down the field for fifty or sixty yards gaining momentum before knocking into the blockers for the returning team. The blockers are no longer allowed to wedge block which is when the receiving team puts two blockers on one defender to create a violent impact. The new rule has blocking done near the point of the kick with only three players allowed in the back field. All of the main blocking will happen near the fifty-yard line, so the returner has about thirty yards of open space. These new rules allow for much fewer injuries because the momentum that players pick up are lethal is now eliminated. There is no running start for the kicking team which makes the impact between offense and defense simply on strength rather than momentum. The main takeaway from these rules, especially for Chicago Bears fans, is that kick returns are going to be much more exciting.
The Chicago Bears drafted Tarik Cohen in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft at pick no. 119. Cohen didn’t generate a lot of buzz when he first started for the Bears. As the season continued, fans grew to love the running back for his return game. Bears fans hadn’t seen a better kick returner since Devin Hester. Cohen only scored one touchdown from a punt return this past season but gathered many yards on each return. He accumulated 583 yards from kick returns and 272 yards from punt returns. Cohen was extremely limited given the blocking he received off the kick and the lack of open space. During regular plays, when Cohen was given open space to run or caught the ball in the open field, he was able to easily maneuver around defenders. Cohen is very small and agile. His movements are very precise and dangerous if given space.
The new kickoff rules are the best possible news that the Bears could receive. The new kickoff gives open space to all returners. For Tarik Cohen this is a dream come true. As Cohen receives the ball he can easily scan the field and see where the best path to run is. He can maneuver around any defenders that get through the line. With the recent draft additions of James Daniels and Roquan Smith there are much more blocker options for the kick return. The addition of John Franklin III adds another returner option if Tarik Cohen is not able to play.
Bears fans have more to be excited about this upcoming season than just the offense and defense. Kickoffs will no longer be the time when fans turn on the television, but rather be the reason they turn on the television. Special teams are finally going to make a bigger impact on the team and no team should be more excited about this than the Chicago Bears.