'It's taking strategy out': Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub reacts to new fair catch rule

Vikings Chiefs Football
Posted at 3:34 PM, Jun 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-01 16:34:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the things Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub loved about his unit was the chess game and use of strategy during kickoffs and punts.

Now, with a new fair-catch rule being implemented for next season by the NFL, that chess game could be largely gone.

"I just think (the fair-catch rule) will take the strategy out of special teams," Toub said Thursday as the Chiefs wrapped up the second week of OTAs. "If you're a team that is trying to get back into the game and you're on kickoff, trying to pin the team close to their end zone or create a turnover, one big strategy was have the kicker kick the ball high and potentially force the return team to make a mistake. They can just now fair catch it and get the ball at the 25-yard line every time. It was a big strategic thing that was taken away from us as special team coaches."

The new fair-catch rule essentially allows the kick returner to receive a touchback anywhere inside the 25-yard line.

The rule will be used on a one-year trial basis.

The league believes it will reduce head injuries. Nineteen players suffered concussions during the 2,700 kickoffs last season, an increase over the past two years, according to Sports Illustrated reporter Albert Breer,

League models indicate the new kickoff rule will help help reduce concussions by 15%.

Still, all 32 NFL special team coordinators opposed the rule.

Toub said he understands the NFL's reasoning, but he doesn't believe the new rule will drastically cut the concussion rate. He also was on a committee that studied the rule's possible impact.

"(The committee) looked at concussion tape, looked at all the injuries, and we advised them that (the fair-catch rule) wouldn't be something that would make the play safer," Toub said.

Toub said that he and other special team coordinators tried to convince the NFL that they had the ability to coach tackling with the use of the head out of the game, but league owners voted to adopt the new rule anyway.

Toub said the Chiefs' return teams will make use the new rule, especially if the Chiefs are leading or if returning the ball isn't worth the risk of the offense starting deep in their own territory

"We'll use it in certain circumstances," Toub said. "But it's not going to be something we are going to be doing a lot. We're going to be aggressive and we want everybody on the same page."

Toub isn't the only person in the Chiefs organization who has been critical of the new touchback rule.

Coach Andy Reid also is skeptical of the new rule, asking where the line is going to be drawn, while Travis Kelce called the rules 'wack'.