Last season, the NFL moved the kickoff line to the 35-yard-line from the 30, and reaction to the move was mixed, from claiming it was the end of the kickoff return to assertions that it would be no big deal.
When Roger Goodell was asked about it in his annual presser on Friday, in addition to his comments regarding the Super Bowl as posted earlier, he also said...
'We knew there would be less kickoff returns, but we thought safety was really a part of the initiative until we come up with a better solution. ... We will evaluate again this offseason. But I don't think we're moving it back."
So how much of an impact did the rule change have, and what can we expect in the future? Hit the jump...
As it turns out, quite a bit of an impact.
In 2010, there were 416 touchbacks (16.4 percent of all kickoffs, according to STATS) and Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff led the league with 40.
In 2011, there were 1,120 touchbacks (43.5 percent) and 11 players had more than 40. New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead led the league with 68.
And more related to the Bears...
The Bears' average starting point in 2011 was the 23.6 yard line, which ranked fifth in the league. Their average starting point in 2010 was the 31.5 yard line, which ranked second.
So kickoff touchbacks tripled, and the Bears' starting field position was cut by eight whole yards. As far as injuries are concerned, it seems like this goal was generally accomplished; although I can't find any links confirming this, it seems injuries overall on returns decreased significantly.