Commentary

Consequences of new kickoff rules

Changes to kickoff rules will increase touchbacks and players' safety

Originally Published: March 23, 2011
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Devin Hester & Josh CribbsUS PresswireElite kickoff returners may not get the chance to break as many long runs under the new rules.

On Tuesday, the NFL owners voted to move the kickoff back to the 35-yard line (where it was until 1994). The owners decided not to vote for some more extreme rule changes that had been proposed, including banning any wedge blocking and moving the ball after a touchback to the 25 rather than the 20. Still, the kickoff rule changes will make a difference on the field in 2011.

Just how many more touchbacks are we talking about? Last year, 16.3 percent of kickoffs from the standard 30-yard line were touchbacks. We can do some math to figure out how many of those kickoffs would have been touchbacks if the new rules had been in effect in 2010.


To read more about the how the new rule changes will change the NFL's return game and their effect on kickoffs, you must be an ESPN Insider.