Almost half of kickoffs have been touchbacks this year

AP

Trindon Holliday is in the NFL because of his ability to return kicks, but the Broncos special teams ace feels like he’s underworked.

Moving kickoffs to the 35-yard line before the 2011 season has led to a dramatic rise in the number of touchbacks around the league, leaving Holliday to admit that he wants to take kicks out from deep in the end zone because it “might be the only one you get all day.”

“You feel like it’s time for you to spark your team and you get so anxious and you see the ball go over your head again and again and you get frustrated,” Holliday said, via the Denver Post.

He’s probably not the only frustrated kickoff returner. Nearly half the kickoffs in the league this season, 49.4 percent in all, have been touchbacks and the current pace would end the season with the fewest kickoff returns since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002.

The Panthers have been the team’s most successful team when it comes to kicking off as 75.7 percent of their kicks have resulted in touchbacks and it’s certainly helped their defense defend long fields so often this season. Three of the next four teams on the list are also likely on their way to the playoffs, so the benefit is being felt around the league.

Teams that return kicks also do well as the top six teams in kick return average (there’s a tie for fifth between the Lions and Bengals) are still alive in the playoff race, which suggests that having a player like Holliday to make the most of the few opportunities pays off well.

12 responses to “Almost half of kickoffs have been touchbacks this year

  1. Don’t worry, the Eagles are doing their best to reverse that trend. If other teams would just draft a kicker in the 4th round that can’t reach the endzone in a dome stadium, we’d have more exciting pooch kicks and drives starting at the 40 yard line.

  2. This stat makes me even happier the Vikes traded back into the first round to draft Cordarelle Patterson. Not only is he showing glimpses of developing into an elite WR (even with all the QB issues), he is a threat to return every kickoff fielded.

  3. Here’s the problem with this:

    1. Team scores touchdown.
    (Some time passes.)
    2. Team kicks extra point. Which is practically automatic.
    (Some time passes.)
    3. Team kicks off. Touchback.
    (Some time passes.)
    4. Football starts again.

    There’s simply too much (real, not game) time between a team scoring a touchdown and the next meaningful play, unless there is a 2-point conversion attempt or there actually is a kickoff return.

  4. Goodell and the league owners have crippled the superstar careers of today’s elite returners. Hester, Holliday, Jacoby Jones etc. should have such better numbers. Thanks, NFL.

  5. Pro football has become pro rassling. The games and their outcomes are largely manipulated by the league office. I barely watch anymore, but when I do take a few minutes and tune in to a telecast……..that few minutes is all it takes to remind me of why I stopped watching and then I go back to doing whatever it was I was doing before I tuned in. Constant flags that would’ve been incomprehensible 15 years ago. And the only reason these kickoff numbers are at 49% and not way over that is because guys like Holliday take it out from deep in the end zone because they have to. A few years ago these guys would almost never take it out from that deep because they’d have other opportunities. Good thing Desmond Howard or Dante Hall never played in this era.

    NFE – National Football Entertainment.

  6. mpoles says:
    Dec 18, 2013 10:30 AM
    Here’s the problem with this:

    1. Team scores touchdown.
    (Some time passes.)
    2. Team kicks extra point. Which is practically automatic.
    (Some time passes.)
    3. Team kicks off. Touchback.
    (Some time passes.)
    4. Football starts again.

    There’s simply too much (real, not game) time between a team scoring a touchdown and the next meaningful play, unless there is a 2-point conversion attempt or there actually is a kickoff return.

    ______________________________

    Don’t forget the commercial and refs having to confirm a touchdown. The most irritating thing is the:

    Touchdown
    PAT
    (commercial)
    Kick off
    (commercial)
    Next Play

    (oh, and don’t let there be a player injured somewhere in there)

    I think America can live without seeing the PAT (unless it’s a crucial moment). They could just do a “during the break…”

  7. The kickoff used to be one of the most exciting plays in the game and a chance to see a returner spark his team after an opponent’s touchdown and regain some momentum. Of all the awful rule changes, this is the one I hate the most.

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