Detroit Lions ST Coordinator Dave Fipp Has Plenty of Thoughts on New Kickoff Rule

Dave Fipp Shared His Thoughts on the New Rule

The Detroit Lions, under the guidance of Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp, are embracing the challenge posed by the NFL’s new kickoff rules. With the league adopting rules similar to those used in the XFL last season, Fipp and his team are experimenting with different strategies to leverage these changes to their advantage.

“We’re trying to experiment as much as we can, obviously. And putting our guys in a bunch of situations, both in schemes, positionally on the field, alignments, how we’re trying to play the play, mindset, mentality of it,” Fipp explained. His approach involves varying drills and positioning, ensuring that the Lions’ special teams can adapt quickly to the new dynamics introduced by the rules.

Dave Fipp

Key Aspects of the New Kickoff Rule

The new kickoff format introduces several changes aimed at making the play safer and more strategic:

  • Alignment: All players except the kicker must line up at the opponent’s 40-yard line, drastically reducing the running start previously allowed.
  • Movement Restrictions: Players cannot move until the ball is caught or hits the ground, focusing on reaction rather than momentum.
  • Touchback Changes: A traditional touchback now places the ball at the 30-yard line, altering field position dynamics.

Dave Fipp is focused on ensuring that these changes translate into competitive advantages for the Lions. He emphasized the importance of making the play both competitive and clean, avoiding chaotic scrambles for the ball that can lead to penalties and injuries.

“I think the thing that was important from my standpoint is that the play is a play that both looks good and it gives both sides of the football a chance to compete,” Fipp said Thursday before the Lions’ third organized team activity practice of the offseason in Allen Park.

“We don’t want a dirty play, meaning the ball’s all over the ground, it’s hard to field and it turns into a scrum. Returners are trying to catch it. Like the XFL, they had one returner back there deep. They could only have one guy. And we felt like teams were just going to try to put the ball on the ground, which I think they’ll still try to do in some way. But at least we’re going to have two guys back there so that’ll talk some of the teams out of some of that stuff.

“But my biggest thing was, ‘Hey, let’s give both sides the chance to play the play and make it competitive and compete against each other, and then we’ll find out who does a good job coaching, who does a good job playing and it’ll be a nice, clean play for everybody to see.’”

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Strategic Adjustments and Team Response

The adjustments to the kickoff rule mean that teams must rethink their strategies significantly. For the Detroit Lions, this involves a more detailed understanding of positioning and player roles on the field. Fipp noted that while the initial player positions might resemble those from previous years, the lack of a running start changes the dynamics considerably.

Fipp also highlighted the potential for increased scoring due to improved field positions and the opportunity for more explosive plays from the return team. The spread-out alignment of players and the reduction in distance covered by the coverage team could lead to more significant returns.

“There can be some explosive plays, really for the kickoff return team more so than the coverage team,” Dave Fipp said. “As a coverage group you only have 20 yards, 25 yards to stop the guy, but the return team’s got 75 yards to go the other way, so there’s more opportunity for the return team I think to have more explosive plays. I think those things will show up. They’ve spread the field with our alignment so that it’s hard to get an overloaded number of players at the point of attack.

“If you kick the ball away in the left corner, there’s a couple of guys out there that are 50 yards away from the ball laterally and it just takes too long to get over the top of the ball so some of those guys can’t show up. By the time the returner goes 35 yards, they have to go 50. You can’t get there unless you’re just faster.”

TL;DR (too long didn’t read)

  1. Innovative Adaptation: The Detroit Lions are actively experimenting with various strategies to adapt to the NFL’s new kickoff rules, focusing on player alignments and roles to optimize performance under the changed conditions.
  2. Understanding New Rules: The new kickoff format limits player movement until the ball is caught or touches the ground and changes the touchback rule to place the ball at the 30-yard line, among other nuances aimed at increasing safety and strategic play.
  3. Potential for More Scoring: Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp anticipates that the new rules will lead to better field positions and more scoring opportunities, particularly from explosive plays by the return team due to the strategic spreading of players across the field.
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The Bottom Line

Dave Fipp’s enthusiasm for the new kickoff rules reflects a broader optimism within the Detroit Lions organization about adapting to and capitalizing on these changes. As the team continues to experiment with different alignments and strategies, the upcoming season will likely showcase a special teams unit that is not only compliant with the new rules but also innovatively exploits them to enhance the Lions’ overall game strategy. This proactive approach could set a standard for other NFL teams navigating similar adjustments.

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Written by W.G. Brady

W.G. Brady is a Detroit-based journalist who has been covering the Detroit sports scene for Detroit Sports Nation for several years. He is in his early 30s and has a wealth of experience in the industry. Throughout his career, W.G. has established himself as a respected and knowledgeable journalist known for his in-depth coverage of the teams and athletes in Detroit. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for sports, W.G. has become a go-to source for fans and readers looking for the latest news and analysis on the Detroit sports scene. He has a good reputation in the sports community and is respected for his unbiased coverage of sports events. W.G. is known for his ability to uncover hidden stories and provide unique perspectives on the teams and athletes he covers. He has a good understanding of the city of Detroit and its sports culture, which he uses to inform his reporting and analysis. He continues to be a respected journalist in the Detroit sports industry.

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