NFL was already seeing diminished returns

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
4:00
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- Marty Callinan of ESPN Stats & Information has passed along helpful information regarding the NFL's recently adopted rules changes regarding kickoffs.

All agree the measure will produce additional touchbacks.

Here's the thing, though: Touchbacks have been on the rise, anyway, as the chart illustrates.

Callinan offers these notes:
  • There were 2,448 kickoffs from the 30-yard line in 2010. Sixteen percent of those resulted in touchbacks. Twenty-seven kickoffs took place at the 35 and 37.0 percent ended with a touchback.
  • Since 2001, 11.1 percent of kickoffs from the 30 resulted in touchbacks. That percentage nearly tripled (31.7%) when the kickoff yard line was the 35. Since 2007, four out of every ten kickoffs from the 35 were not returned.
  • With the recent spike in touchbacks and the new kickoff line, we might be close to seeing a touchback percentage near 50.

One thing I'd like to see is whether deeper kickoffs correlate with longer returns in the absence of touchbacks. That was the case for the Seattle Seahawks' Leon Washington last season, as discussed previously. Washington's teammate, Michael Robinson, thinks that will be one product of the new rules.

I'll dive into this subject more deeply upon returning from the NFL owners meeting. Catching a flight soon.

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