I believe that Duece's 8-2-1 Kickoff Return can be the solution to the NFL's concussion problem. Not that he needs me to validate him, but this idea should not be so easily dismissed without evaluating it on its merit. Let me start by saying that when I first heard about the 8-2-1 KR that I thought it was the Special Team version of the A-11 Offense (read: gimmick), but I let Duece clinic me on the subject recently and I became convinced.
Roger Goodell had a conversion with Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano about some "outside of the box" ideas to make the game safer (Time Magazine article). Schiano proposed that if a team scored, they would get the ball on their own 30-yard line and it would be 4th and 15. They could "go for it" or Punt in this situation. I would guess the percentage of converting a 3rd or 4th and 15 is higher than that of the onside kick, but this still is not a bad idea to get the ball rolling on possible solutions to the problem at hand. The idea that I have heard a few times is that the Kickoff needs to be more like a Punt Return, which is exactly where the 8-2-1 Kickoff Return fits in.
There are two things I really like about the 8-2-1:
1. Better Production - as evidenced by statistical data (albeit limited)
a. Increased Block Efficiency - less whiffs and easier blocks than with the standard KR
b. Better Field Position
c. More TDs and more KRs returned past midfield
2. Increased Player Safety - the 8-2-1 is more like a Punt Return with less high-speed
collisions. The blockers are running with their man and they "cover" him like a CB would
cover a WR.
The talk of eliminating the Kickoff is evidence of how drastic the NFL's safety problem is and will continue to be. Moving kickoffs from the 30- to the 35-yard line was an okay idea, but a better solution would be to make a rule that teams have at least 8 men within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage. It is important that we preserve our great game by maintaining a play that is an essential part of the sport itself, and this idea is just crazy enough to work.