Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

23 Mar 2011

ESPN: Effects of New Kickoff Rules

Attempting to figure out just how many more touchbacks we're going to get with the kickoff moved up to the 35-yard line in 2011.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 23 Mar 2011

17 comments, Last at 29 Feb 2012, 7:28am by Bass

Comments

1
by cbirkemeier :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 1:45pm
2
by Rabbit :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 2:02pm

The effect of this rule will be: 1) minimizing the value of kick returns 2) minimizing the value of defensing the kick return 3) minimizing the value of kickers with 'leg'.

Coincidentally enough, the Colts are lacking in each dept. So yet again Bill Polian leads the CC to re-establish a ruling that helps his team the most.

I hope Peyton rapes the bastard for $30 mil/per

3
by master_P (not verified) :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 2:30pm

I have a suspicion, or maybe one could call it a hope, that one of the unintended consequences of this rule change will be more accurate field goal kickers in the long term. Under the old rules general managers greatly valued having a cannon leg for kickoffs over field goal accuracy for a variety of reasons. Kick off distance is more consistent year to year than field goal percentage, field position is directly proportional to points scored, ect. Now that it is easier for your "average" kicker to get those touch-backs I hope that field goal accuracy will be valued higher than it is currently, and we'll see fewer of those awful shanks from in close that seem to happen pretty regularly.

4
by Randy Hedberg (not verified) :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 3:58pm

Your argument makes sense, but I hope that something is done to make field goal kickers less accurate, not more (like narrowing the goalposts). Frankly, it's boring to watch kickers hit 90% of their field goals inside 40 yards. I'd much rather watch football where FG accuracy was more like in the 70s and 80s, where a 20-25 yarder was pretty automatic but anything outside that is a crapshoot. That would make FGs more exciting and encourage going for it on 4th down.

17
by Bass (not verified) :: Wed, 02/29/2012 - 7:28am

I do not think that narrowing the goalposts is possible at this time. But you're right when you say it gets getting boring.
Tagesgeld Vergleich

7
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 5:21pm

hell, matt stover could kick another 10 years if they'd just move kickoffs to the 40

5
by Dean :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 4:57pm

I really think this is all much ado about nothing. There'll be a statistical impact, sure, but not one of such a degree that we'll really notice the difference when watching the games.

The only thing I can think of that will be noticable is that teams with bad offenses, backup QBs, etc. will struggle even more to move the ball than if they had a good kick returner. Even then, it won't make THAT much of a difference.

6
by are-tee :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 5:00pm

This is going to have a much bigger negative effect on average starting field position than people think. Aside from the the obvious increase in touchbacks in general, it will probably eliminate most of the intentional squib kicks that teams employed to avoid a dangerous returner. Often, they would result in kicks fielded at the 20 and returned to the 30 or so. But now, most teams will just bet on their kicker being able to boom it deep enough to avoid the runback, also having 5 fewer yards to run downfield.

8
by Tybalt the Greenish (not verified) :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 5:45pm

Hurrah! Kickoff returns are boring! A guy taking a knee in the end zone is exciting! The NFL is so great.

9
by KyleW :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 8:27pm

Is the limit of a 5 yard running start likely to have any difference? To me it appears that most teams have been using far more than this lately. Perhaps even much as 10 yards. I wonder if this is likely to make players on the kickoff team easier to block. Particularly by players on the retune team lined up near the ball as the difference in speed between the blockers and the coverage guys should be reduced. This may lead to better returns for the teams that block well on special teams.

Overall I suspect the changes will be relatively neutral for kickoffs but we are likely to see an increase in field goal accuracy as mentioned above.

10
by Buck (not verified) :: Wed, 03/23/2011 - 10:20pm

The kicking team's players will be 5 yards closer to the returner on every kick run back. They'll get on him faster.

On the other side of the ball, this will give the returner 5 less yards to "see" the field, set up his blocks, and make his cut.

Add this to the returner having to start his return an average of 5 yards deeper in his territory. It'll be a huge negative factor in starting field position.

I can see a team like the Packers hoping for a touchback when they receive a kickoff.

11
by Bip (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:42am

They won't get to them faster. As anyone who has played on a kickoff team will tell you, that running head start they just lost will be a HUGE negative to getting down the field.

12
by Tybalt the Greenish (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 8:15am

Don't they still get a running start, they are just limited to five yards? Anyone who has played under the Canadian rules with our unlimited presnap motion will tell you that five yards is plenty of time to build up a head of steam.

And the five yards makes a rather larger difference than the running start.

13
by Deron (not verified) :: Thu, 03/24/2011 - 12:36pm

The new rules will drastically change the game, as they did in 1994. It doesn't necessarily ensure fewer kickoff collisions than there would be without it.

http://theresastatforthat.blogspot.com/2011/03/nfls-new-kickoff-rules-ar...

14
by mlstone (not verified) :: Thu, 03/31/2011 - 10:54am

I think that with the new rules, we will still see kick returns, but they will only be the returners that nobody is scared of. We won't see any exciting returns from the best returners in the game. Teams are scared of them, so they will just kick it into the end zone for a touchback. It takes most of the excitement out of kickoff returns, which previously would be considered one of the most exciting plays in football. The NFL is a dangerous sport, but NFL officials need to stop worrying about it so much. It isn't a huge deal, but I do think it hurts the game.

15
by Roger Tosifters (not verified) :: Fri, 07/15/2011 - 4:01pm

I wonder if this is likely to make players on the kickoff team easier to block. Particularly by players on the retune team lined up near the ball as the difference in speed between the blockers and the coverage guys should be reduced. wordpress premium themes

16
by Alen (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2011 - 6:51am

We won't see any exciting returns from the best returners in the game. Teams are scared of them, so they will just kick it into the end zone for a touchback. It takes most of the excitement out of kickoff returns, which previously would be considered one of the most exciting plays in football. The NFL is a dangerous sport, but NFL officials need to stop worrying about it so much. It isn't a huge deal, but I do think it hurts the game.