Oh, people. Oh, oh, people. I knew that the NFL's decision to move all kickoffs to the 35-yard-line was going to neuter the game somewhat. The league changed the kickoff spot specifically to reduce kickoff returns and emphasize player safety. But it's one thing to think about the rule in theory, and quite another to see it put into lifeless, dulling practice. The folks at Bleeding Green Nation watched last night's preseason opener between the Eagles and Ravens and noted this rather alarming stat:
Six kickoffs in tonight's Eagles game resulted in one return attempt.
Preseason games are good for very little, but it was obvious from watching the Eagles game last night (and the four other games being played) that this new rule is awful. It looks WRONG. It looks like a mistake. If they're going to do away with kickoff returns, then why have kickoffs? It doesn't make any sense. The only reason to have kickoffs now is so we can have potential onsides kicks at the end of a game. That's it. Otherwise, kickoffs are now strictly ceremonial in nature.
It can't stay like this. You can't have meaningless kickoff after meaningless kickoff. There were 23 kickoffs returned for touchdowns in the NFL last year. That number could easily move down into single digits this season. Heck, it could move to zero. Think about that. Think about how drastic that change would be. The game doesn't look right with kickoffs at this spot. They have to either move it back, or they have to just start new possessions from the 20 and revert to kicking off with five minutes to go at the end of either half. That way, you keep the safety aspect but you lose the pointlessness of repeated touchbacks.
Or you can just change it back to the 30 and leave the game be. It's not too late, NFL.