The NFL has been making an attempt to chop down on the variety of kickoff returns for a number of years now, and it needed to be proud of the outcomes it noticed throughout Week 1 of the 2023 season.
In response to ESPN Stats & Info, the kickoff return rate in the first 16 games of the season was only 20.5 percent, the bottom mark for any week courting again to the 2000 season. The league and ESPN haven’t any official knowledge previous to 2000. Nonetheless, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert speculates it’s solely doable it’s the lowest kickoff return charge of any week in NFL historical past.
The NFL has made quite a few rule adjustments over time to present groups incentive to not return the ball, from transferring the kickoff location to the 35-yard line to transferring touchbacks to the 25-yard line, to the most recent rule change that enables groups to truthful catch kickoffs within the subject of play and start their subsequent season on the 25.
The truthful catch rule additionally doesn’t appear to be the first driver of the dearth of returns, both.
Just one truthful catch was utilized this week, whereas just one staff used it throughout the entirety of the preseason.
However the lack of returns continues to be an eye-opening quantity.
Kickoff returns are thought to be some of the harmful performs in soccer with one of many highest damage charges.
Particular groups coaches and particular groups gamers are understandably not big followers of the adjustments given how a lot it impacts their jobs, however the league appears totally dedicated to decreasing the variety of returns that we see. It’s solely doable that in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, the NFL is a recreation that now not has kickoffs of any variety, or makes use of a kickoff method that’s dramatically completely different from what we see now.
One potential thought is the XFL’s new kickoff rule that has the particular groups’ items line up 5 yards from one another to scale back the variety of high-impact collisions that occur.