New rules may be helping kickoff returners

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The NFL once again tweaked its kickoff rules this offseason, but this time the result may be different: Kickoff returners are getting an advantage.

At least, that’s how it looks from Week One of the regular season. Kickoff returns across the NFL this week have averaged 23.5 yards. Last season, across the NFL, all kickoff returns averaged just 21.6 yards. And there were two kickoff return touchdowns yesterday in just 13 games. Last year there were seven kickoff return touchdowns all season, in 256 games.

Of course, one week is too small a sample size to draw any sweeping conclusions. It’s possible this was just random variation, and both kickoff return touchdowns came in the Titans-Dolphins game after a long lightning delay, when it’s possible that players on the kick coverage unit had tightened up during the rest period and were struggling to run at full speed.

But the new rules would seem to benefit returners, particularly the rule against the coverage players getting a running start before the ball is kicked. And the stats from Week One are an indication that returners are, in fact, taking advantage.

26 responses to “New rules may be helping kickoff returners

  1. BB signed Patterson, who is only good at returns. The league changed the rules to help return men. It’s so obvious that Kraft is paying Roger to do what he wants him to.

  2. “when it’s possible that players on the kick coverage unit had tightened up during the rest period and were struggling to run at full speed.”
    =======================

    Isn’t the kick returner also part of that unit that “might” have tightened up? How was it possible for him to run at full speed? Seriously, stop making excuses.

  3. Start reading all those old posts when the rules were changed. How many were crying that the rules would kill the kickoff game? Where are those commenters now?

  4. May be too small a sample size but it does follow a few decades worth of rule tweaking to enhance scoring. It’s why I don’t compare eras for players. If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian). But fans like high scoring games. Nevermind that some of us like defense too.

  5. It’s why I don’t compare eras for players. If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian).
    ———
    You must not realize that the Pats won 3 super bowls before the Colts made the NFL change the rules (between 2004 and 2005) so you could no longer touch WR’s.

    Nice try kid. Read your history first. It’s the age of information. See rules comity. Bill Polian and Jeff Fisher were in charge.

  6. TruFBFan says:
    September 10, 2018 at 9:02 am

    If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian).
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$
    You’re absolutely right. They have paid for many rule changes to benefit Tom “Fumbled Away His Last Chance” Brady and the PEDtriots. The league knowingly allowed Alex G to sell PEDs to the PEDtriots players including GronkPEDski until PEDelman messed up and got caught. Now Brady runs away when he hears his name because he knows the truth is coming out soon.

  7. If that turns out to be the case, that would be good; kickoff returns are an exciting part of the game.

  8. For the casual fan, the kickoff was the best play in the game. It was simple, no complex motions and formations, just 22 guys running and hitting. It is part of what built the game. I’ve taught plenty of people about football (all hail the DVR), putting back the exciting easy to understand play will do a lot to keep the games popularity.

  9. Two returns for touchdowns in 13 games is not a big thing when you consider Ted Ginn Jr. had two 100+ yard returns for touchdowns in one game himself. This was almost 10 years ago before the NFL started softening rules. Like then yesterday is just a statistical abnormality.

  10. Vikings and 49’ers game had no kick returns whatsoever… They have taken one of the most exciting plays in the game of football and made it non-existent…

  11. BB signed Patterson, who is only good at returns. The league changed the rules to help return men. It’s so obvious that Kraft is paying Roger to do what he wants him to.”

    Dude you live in a sad little fantasyland. I work with a nonprofit group of psychologists that would probably love to study you and about a dozen other people here for sports related psychoses.

    Lolz

  12. factschecker says:
    September 10, 2018 at 9:09 am
    It’s why I don’t compare eras for players. If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian).
    ———
    You must not realize that the Pats won 3 super bowls before the Colts made the NFL change the rules (between 2004 and 2005) so you could no longer touch WR’s.

    Nice try kid. Read your history first. It’s the age of information. See rules comity. Bill Polian and Jeff Fisher were in charge.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Factschecker, history did not start at 2000. The Mel Blount rule (no hitting WR after 5 yards) was done in ’77 or ’78 and the rules were tweaked in ’94 to help the passing game even more (QB helmet communications/adding roughing the passer penalty to discourage hits after the ball was gone). Those were long before the Manning/Polian stuff so the op’s point is valid. TB12 is unquestionably great in this era but comparing eras is pointless. He could easily have been a scrub under early 70s rules and crappy QBs from back in the day could be superstars under today’s rules.

  13. The NFL reminds me of NASCAR – constant meddling with the rules and producing a subpar product in the process.

    What the NFL wants is injury free play – and that cannot even happen with flag football. There is a reason guys who haven’t the ability to even sling fries at McDonald’s make millions catching balls and not using their head while making tackles – it is a risky sport.

  14. “actschecker says:
    September 10, 2018 at 9:09 am
    It’s why I don’t compare eras for players. If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian).
    ———
    You must not realize that the Pats won 3 super bowls before the Colts made the NFL change the rules (between 2004 and 2005) so you could no longer touch WR’s.

    Nice try kid. Read your history first. It’s the age of information. See rules comity. Bill Polian and Jeff Fisher were in charge.”


    The Colts didn’t make anyone change the rules. They started changing with the Palmer hit, then accelerated with the Brady hit and now the rules continue everytime Rodgers gets hit.

  15. Carroll Prescott says: “What the NFL wants is injury free play – and that cannot even happen with flag football. There is a reason guys who haven’t the ability to even sling fries at McDonald’s make millions catching balls and not using their head while making tackles – it is a risky sport.”
    ===============================

    What a stupid argument. Just because it’s risky doesn’t mean you STOP trying to minimize injuries.

    No one and I mean no one, including hard core football fans, wants to watch the battle of backup qbs. Imagine last night’s game – Deshone Kizer vs. Chase Daniels. Ugh.

  16. man967 says:
    September 10, 2018 at 12:06 pm
    “actschecker says:
    September 10, 2018 at 9:09 am
    It’s why I don’t compare eras for players. If TB12 had to play when you could actually touch a QB, or a receiver, he would likely be pedestrian (I actually think without BB he is pedestrian).
    ———
    You must not realize that the Pats won 3 super bowls before the Colts made the NFL change the rules (between 2004 and 2005) so you could no longer touch WR’s.

    Nice try kid. Read your history first. It’s the age of information. See rules comity. Bill Polian and Jeff Fisher were in charge.”


    The Colts didn’t make anyone change the rules. They started changing with the Palmer hit, then accelerated with the Brady hit and now the rules continue everytime Rodgers gets hit.

    ————

    Actually the Colts abs Polian did lobby for rule changes in the way DBs could cover receivers. They did this because they could not beat the Pats with the Pats aggressive style of coverage coming off the line of scrimmage.

  17. FinFan68 says:
    September 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

    Factschecker, history did not start at 2000.
    ____________________________________________

    You win the internet today. Except for all the millennial ‘neters.

  18. Yes, make the kickoffs more exciting, because every other aspect of the game is becoming more boring. I hope football doesn’t lose it’s essence.

  19. Kick return TDs can be a bit of a fluke play. When you now had two TDs in one week, that alone will tweak the average yardage per return, so you really cannot use one week’s worth of data to jump to any conclusions. You point out it is a small sample size, but yet still use it to jump to conclusions anyway.

  20. “Start reading all those old posts when the rules were changed. How many were crying that the rules would kill the kickoff game? Where are those commenters now?”
    ___________________

    The base issue was then and still remains that it’s incredibly stupid to introduce new rules with zero testing. There’s absolutely no reason that rules couldn’t be tested out in scrimmages, preseason games, etc.

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