NFL

Bill Belichick questions whether NFL's new kickoff rule actually makes football safer

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks off the field after a 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks off the field after a 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 18, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

One never knows how an NFL rule change will affect the product on the field.

Take the rule that stops the clock when a player is injured, for example. On the surface, that's a rational approach to player health; in reality, some teams and players twist the law of the land, faking injuries to slow down no-huddle offenses when the defense is on its heels.

Similarly, the NFL's decision to push kickoffs to the 25-yard line this year in an effort to encourage more touchbacks and fewer injuries on kick returns made sense in a vacuum. Yet after 15 games in 2016, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has questions about the effectiveness of the rule change.

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Via CSNNE.com:

"I'd say last week [when the Broncos' Kayvon Webster suffered a concussion on a touchback against the Chiefs] was a good example, though, of some of the different proponents of 'we want more touchbacks,' " Belichick said. "We saw a pretty big concussed play with a touchback. Part of the touchback is, 'Well, we think it's a touchback so everybody's not playing the same speed. Because we think it's a touchback, it's going to be a no play.'

"But then, as a coverage team, you don't know for sure the guy isn't coming out or not so you're playing it at full speed. So some of the concussions and some of the injuries look to me like they come on touchbacks. If we want more touchbacks, is that really solving the problem here as it's been presented by the Competition Committee? You know how I feel about it. We'll see how smart some of that has really been to address the problems that we think are being addressed.

"It seems like, football, we got a pretty good game here. Been that way for a long time. Seems like the kicking game has been a great part of our game. But I guess we have a lot of people who feel like the game needs to be changed so I don't know. We'll just have to see how it all turns out."

And Belichick's reasoning doesn't even include the fact that he and the Patriots circumvented the rules by having kicker Stephen Gostkowski loft his kicks inside the 5-yard line, giving the return team time to cover the kick.

Belichick kind of slips into "Get off my lawn!" mode at the end there, which is a bit peculiar. He seems like the kind of guy who keeps up with the times and understands that every professional sport is a changing landscape that embraces new developments in safety, tactics and technology.

Then again, Belichick has been around football his entire life. You can't blame the guy for wanting one of the biggest parts of his identity to stay the same -- or to change only when there's a very good reason.