Belichick: 'We've got a good kicker, sorry'

NEW ORLEANS -- A day after New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick condemned proposed new kickoff rules, he gave his blessing on a revamped version.

Belichick called the original proposal too confusing and radical. What passed Tuesday afternoon by a 26-6 vote was a minor tweak.

Kickoffs will be teed up at the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and coverage units will have only a 5-yard head start before the kick. They previously had 10- to 15-yard running head starts.

Other kickoff recommendations from the competition committee -- eliminating two-man wedges and spotting touchbacks at the 25-yard line -- were dropped.

"Well, we were getting rid of the wedge. We were doing a lot of other stuff," Belichick said about his change of heart. "I think this is a lot simpler. It's clean."

The NFL also adopted a new video review policy for touchdown plays. They will be initiated by the replay booth, not a coach's challenge. That passed 30-2.

The Patriots will benefit from the new kickoff rules because Stephen Gostkowski has a deep leg. He averaged 67.9 yards per kickoff last year, fifth in the NFL, before a thigh injury sidelined him in November. He generated a touchback 35.7 percent of the time, ranking second.

"We've got a good kicker," Belichick said with a shrug, "sorry."

Belichick noted touchbacks will be more plentiful early in the season, but as weather worsens down the homestretch and the playoffs come around, those deep kicks will be more returnable.

"Based on the numbers, you're still probably looking at at least two-thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three-quarters," Belichick said. "At the end of the year it goes down anyway. There's a lot more touchbacks in the first part of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn't carry as far in the cold. I don't care. Just doesn't go as far."

Belichick also liked keeping touchback spots where they are.

"I think that's good for the game," he said. "We don't need too many new rules every year. It's hard for the coach to keep up with them, let alone the fans. I'm still working on some of the new rules from last year."