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Bill Belichick: New kickoff rule makes size more important than speed on special teams

Bill Belichick says the NFL’s new kickoff rule, which will see 10 players on the kicking team and nine players on the return team lined up five yards apart, will lead teams to prioritize size over speed on special teams.

“There will be more of an emphasis on size players in the return game than speed,” Belichick said on the Pat McAfee Show. “You just need guys who can play at the point of attack, shed blocks and defend their space because of the new alignment. So I think it will increase the size of the players that are on the field. And I do think that because everybody is spread across the field, if these returners, if they hit a little bit of space, they’re gone.”

Belichick thinks it’s good for players who block and cover on kickoffs that their jobs are important again, as the old kickoff rule had made kickoffs nearly obsolete.

“There’s more opportunity for players to play on special teams than there had been the last couple years when literally 90 percent of the kickoffs were going out of the end zone,” Belichick said.

Still Belichick is disappointed that onside kicks now need to be declared in advance.

“I don’t like that they took the surprise onside kick out of it,” Belichick said.

It’s a rule Belichick won’t get to coach himself this year, as he’s without a job for the first time in half a century. But he has given plenty of thought to it, and his brain would be a valuable one for some team to pick.