Kickoffs Moving Back to the 35, Prepare for Touchbacks Galore
A proposal that will likely lead to an abundance of touchbacks in the NFL next season — or whenever football resumes — was passed Tuesday afternoon. The spot of a kickoff will be moved from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line, which is where kickoffs were spotted prior to 1994. Another proposal that would have made things even more interesting was to move the spot of a touchback from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line, but that proposal did not pass.
Several changes have been proposed for kickoffs this offseason in an attempt to protect players on one of the game’s most dangerous plays. Players will now only be allowed a 5-yard running start on kickoff coverage, compared to the 10 to 15 yards they were allowed before. Surprisingly, the return team will still be allowed to use the two-man wedge — a maneuver that has been blamed for many serious injuries throughout the league over the years.
NFL players are getting bigger and stronger with each passing year, and kickers have not necessarily been an exception. We now have jacked place kickers like Jay Feely and guys who can kick the ball a mile off a tee like Stephen Gostkowski. A lot of return men like to put on a show in today’s game, which makes choosing to return a kick from three yards deep in the end zone a fairly common occurrence. Any kick from 2010 that was three yards deep in the end zone will nearly find its way out of the end zone in 2011, and will likely not be returned.
Overall, we can expect this rule to result in less injuries, more touchbacks, and worse starting field position for NFL offenses.