Roger Goodell had a lot to say at his annual pre-Super Bowl press conference on Friday, most of which we covered on Friday.
One area that got overlooked was Goodell’s opinion about the decision to move kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line this season. The NFL hoped to improve player safety by limiting the number of returns and their wish was fulfilled. There were 1,120 touchbacks during the regular season which accounted for 43.5 percent of all kickoffs. That was a sharp rise from 16.4 percent of kickoffs during the 2010 season.
It looks like we’re in for more of the same next year. Goodell doesn’t see any change in kickoffs coming for next season.
“We knew there would be less kickoff returns,” Goodell told the Chicago Sun-Times. :But we thought safety was really a part of the initiative until we come up with a better solution. We will evaluate again this offseason. But I don’t think we’re moving it back.”
As the Sun-Times points out, the Bears were one of the teams that voted against the move. Their fears about losing an edge in field position wound up coming true as the team lost eight yards in average starting position from 2010 to 2011, although they still ranked fifth in the league this season with an average start on the 23.6-yard line.