Defense/Special Teams TDs on the rise
Posted Apr. 01 at 10:35 PM
We've talked a little about how the new rule moving kickoffs to the 35-yard-line might have a negative effect on teams traditionally strong in kick returns. Another likely impact of the rule change figures to be reversing a recent trend in overall defensive and special teams touchdowns.
One of the stats we track involves overall D/ST scores each season. And such scoring plays have definitely been on the rise. The table below shows the defensive and special teams scores league-wide over the last 25 years. Four of the six highest totals have come in the last seven seasons.
Defensive/special teams scores, league-wide, last 25 years
Posted by Brian Grzybowski | Apr. 02 at 04:13 AM
Couple of things: I think this list might have more correlation to the NFL transitioning to a more pass happy league. Do you guys have a stat on interception returns for TD by season? I'd also bet that there is a correlation between rookie QBs or back-up QBs being forced into the line-up and this list. Just off the top of my head: 2007- JaMarcus Russell, (also, the Panthers started a Poo-Poo Platter of Delhomme, Carr, Testaverde!, and Matt Moore). 1998- Manning and Leaf, 1999- Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Donovan, Cade McNown. etc. I think you guys might be going a little overboard on the touchback thing. I've followed you on pretty much everything you've ever said (I drafted Tatum Bell in the 3rd round) but I'm not sure I'm with you on this one. Is there anyway to see a stat on drives that ended in a score that started at the 20 yard line vs. all other drives? And what is the average starting field position position through the years (non-touchback)? Because honestly, if there are only 20-some kickoff returns for a TD per season, out of the over a thousand kick-offs, what's the big deal? Usually what we get is this: A team scores. Then we watch commercials- someone schills some beer, a lizard tries to move some car insurance, a truck hauls a stack of Redwood trees across a dessert. Then we come back to football. The ball is kicked and the returner runs around for 3 seconds and gets clobbered. If there aren't any penalties then we go back to commercial- a truck hauls an ocean liner up a mountain, Brett Favre says "When I think of value, I think of Wrangler. Always have" with a straight face, another funny commercial for bad beer, and there's a plug for an all new NCIS. And we sit through this a zillion times in the hopes that we see the one time that someone takes it back?
Posted by IAN ALLAN | Apr. 02 at 06:18 AM
Kickoffs have been around 20 TDs per year the last four years. In the last four years with kickoffs at the 35 (1990-1993), there were 24 kickoffs in four years -- an average of 6 per year. So I am confident we'll lose 10-plus TDs per year there. The rest of the touchdowns, I'm not sure. I know interceptions have decreased over the years. For the list above, there are different numbers of teams. The league moved to 30 teams in 1995 and up to 32 in 2002, so that played a role in the overall number tending to rise.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Apr. 02 at 06:41 AM
Good point on expansion. Didn't think of that factor. Regarding INT return TDs, I do have that table somewhere...will post it this week.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Apr. 02 at 08:14 AM
Here are the last 18 years (all the data I have) of interception return TDs league-wide. 57, 48, 52, 52, 49, 47, 54, 59, 46, 59, 51, 58, 53, 47, 40, 53, 46, 36. Not a huge change over the years. Looks like the number has been pretty consistent in the 50s since about 1999, which is coincidentally when the expansion Browns joined the league.
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