You can add another name to the list of people inside the NFL that are not thrilled with the NFL's new kickoff rule: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Speaking to reporters at Seahawks organized team activities this week, Carroll was not shy with his feelings regarding the recent rule change,
"I didn't like the change," Carroll said, per Pro Football Talk. "Worrying about the game a little bit, but the other side of it is worrying about the rest of it too. There's some numbers that maybe we can change and help some people not be injured. It's really hard to not look in that direction and support it. We've got to support our guys and take care of them. That's the way we voted. But I was battling. We worked really hard at it. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the guys at the league and with our guys in getting our minds set on how to do it and how we take advantage of it, one way or the other and all of that, and make the most of it. But it'll be all right. You won't even know. You won't even notice there's a difference."
Nevertheless, Carroll said the Seahawks will figure out a way to make sure the rule works for them. One of the ways he thinks they can game it in their favor is by returning more kicks than some other teams might.
"We're going to compete with it," Carroll said. "We're going to use it to our advantage. We're pretty good in those areas. We like to think we're a good return team and we can make things happen. It'll depend. I think you'll see an effect during the course of the season as the weather changes and stuff like that. I don't think it's going to be that dramatic a change. I think teams are going to want to compete and want to bring the ball out. That's really all it is, if you're going to take it to the 25 or not. We'll compete with it, and see how we look, and see if our core group can continue to give us good work like we've always counted on. I'm not thinking we're taking a knee on everything now. We're going to be very aggressive about it."
Seattle ranked ninth in DVOA in kickoff returns last season, according to Football Outsiders, after also ranking ninth in 2021 and 10th in 2020. A consistent top-third of the league performance on kick returns would seem to give them a slight advantage over other teams if they do decide to return -- rather than fair catch -- more often on kicks that are going to land outside the end zone but deep in their own territory.
On the other side of the ball, Carroll said his team would consider using squib kicks, but hasn't made a definitive decision on how to utilize them just yet.
"I think we'll check it out," Carroll said. "There's such an uncertainty about the squib kick. If guys knock that thing down early, they get it early. You get it ricocheted back at you too, so it isn't obvious that that's going to be the difference. But the special teams coaches went right to that thinking, 'This is one of the modes that we'll go to.' We'll see. There's not good definitive numbers on the squib kicks right now, but there will be. I think we'll get them."