Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Say Farewell To Kickoff Returns

On Tuesday, the NFL adopted a new rule that will move kickoff up to the 35-yard line. Touchbacks however will still come out to the 20-yard line. The League said it has made the change to try and avoid so many collisions. Yet, football is a contact sport, so the ruling has not been received well by the fans.

Last season, the Broncos place kicker, Matt Prater, booted nearly everyone of his kickoffs into or out of the endzone (in fact, over thirty-five percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks). Now with an extra five yards to start with, Prater could be sailing kickoffs through the uprights (something he has done in the past, starting five yards farther away). With that the case, it is unlikely many, if any, kickoffs at Invesco Field @ Mile High will be returned next season, or whenever the next football season is.

In a time where kickoff returns for touchdowns were being less and less rare, it now looks as if they may go extinct. Last year, there were 23 kickoff returns for touchdowns. In 1993, the last time kickoffs took place from the 35-yard line, there were only four. And in 1992, there were six.

Broncos second year safety and special teams player Kyle McCarthy weighed in on the subject, saying the ruling will cause more collisions, rather than less. "Does the NFL know by changing the kickoff spot to the 35 yard line," asked McCarthy, "Kickers are just going to kick it higher causing more collisions?" That is a interesting point, but it is more likely however that teams will just boot it out of the endzone every time, not giving the opposing team a chance to return.

There have also been several other happens in Dove Valley today, of which include;


areferee said...

Much ado about nothing.

Prior to 1994, the kickoffs were from the 35. There were still plenty of returns then.

In fact, prior to 1974, the kickoffs were from the 40 yard line.

Even though today's kickers are stronger, in some cases, when you're not facing Devin Hester, it is better to kick it a little shorter and encourage a run back and stop them short of the 20.

That will still be the case, even in games in Denver at altitude.

Jon said...

I don't know about that, ref. We'll find out I guess.

areferee said...

You are correct that there will be fewer returns, but I don't see that as a particularly negative outcome.

Some teams will still choose a shorter kick in an effort to make something happen, like a turnover or negative yards.

Not every kicker will hit the end zone, even in Denver. Even 65 plus yards is a good poke.

There are so many flags on kickoffs, it has gotten boring anyway. It won't have much of a negative impact, IMO.