Now that the 2007 season is complete, it’s time to take a look at the final numbers to determine the impact this season of the new kickoff rule, which moved the start of the kickoff from the 35-yard line back to the 30-yard line.
Here are the kickoff numbers for the 2005-2006 seasons and the 2007 season.
|Season(s)||G||Kickoff Start||# Kickoffs||Kickoff End Avg.||TB||TB%|
The percentage of touchbacks decreased from 29.12% in 2006-2006 to 11.79% in 2007, which is close to a 60% drop. There were 2.97 touchbacks per game in 2005-2006 and 1.31 touchbacks per game in 2007. The average ending yard line of kickoffs moved from the 6.58 yard line in 2005-2006 out to the 10.26 yard line in 2007.
Here are the kickoff return numbers for the 2005-2006 seasons and the 2007 season.
|Season(s)||G||Kickoff Start||# Returns||Return Avg.||Return End Avg.||TD||TD%|
The average length of returns increased in 2007 by less than one yard, from 20.42 to 21.31. The average ending yard line of kickoff returns moved from the 27.58 yard line in 2005-2006 out to the 31.26 yard line, a change of 3.68 yards. The percentage of touchdowns per return increased by 28%, from 0.81% to 1.04%.
As expected, the new rule caused a decrease in the number of touchbacks and an increase in the number of kickoff returns. However, before the season many coaches and pundits predicted the extra five yards of return space would significantly increase both the length of kickoff returns and kickoff returned for touchdown. It seems that they were partially correct — kickoff returns for touchdowns increased by 28%, but the length of the average kickoff return increased by less than one yard.