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NFL Kickoff Rules: Celebrate the Average and Reduce the Great

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Kick returner Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears returns a punt in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Deborah HortonContributor INovember 17, 2016

The NFL has voted on changing the kickoff rules to move all kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35.  

They also want to stop "blocking wedges" on the line of the kicking team.  

The NFL claims they are doing this to reduce injuries.

From my viewpoint, they are doing it to level the playing field.  

Bring the lesser special teams up by preventing the better ones from continuing to do well. In reality, they are eliminating the competition aspect of this part of the game.

The committee claims they are doing this to reduce violent collisions on kickoffs. By making this move, they will drive up the percentage of touchbacks dramatically.  

There will be fewer returns for yardage and kickoffs will most likely sail right on out of the endzone entirely.  

Here are some stats from the past few years on kickoffs and touchbacks. As you will see, the touchback percentage has increased every year as kickers get stronger, which already limits teams' abilities to gain yardage on run-backs. 

 

2010

Kickoffs: 2,539
Touchbacks: 416
Percentage: 16.38
 

 

2009

Kickoffs: 2,484
Touchbacks: 401
Percentage: 16.14
 

 

2008

Kickoffs: 2,576
Touchbacks: 371
Percentage: 14.40
 

 

2007

Kickoffs: 2,515
Touchbacks: 311
Percentage: 12.37

Teams that have a good special teams unit and who can run the ball back on kickoffs like the Bears and the Eagles will basically be taken out of the mix.

That part of the game will go away as almost all of the kicks will sail into and through the endzone.

Teams that are not very good on kickoff returns will benefit because they will not need to plan as much for a good kick returner or a team with a great special teams.  

It also levels the field, in that the teams with lesser special teams will be equal to those with great ones.  

The rule takes away a very exciting and big part of the game for fans and indeed a big component of some NFL teams' offenses.  

It also brings the top special teams down so that the bottom ones can "seem" competitive.  

What's more, I am not sure if it does anything to take away from violent collisions on kickoffs.  

I'm pretty sure that even with the new rule, you are going to have two teams running full force at each other.  

The only thing it may accomplish is in taking more away from the game and making all special teams the same.

Now, that's progress.

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