NFL won't change touchback rule despite early evidence showing it's increasing kickoff returns

Kickoff returns have increased from 8 percent from 2015-2016

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell waves to fans before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King) — Andy Clayton-King

Despite evidence the new touchback rule is having the opposite effect of it's intent, Roger Goodell told CBS sports analyst and former kicker Jay Feely touchbacks will continue coming out to the 25-yard line for the duration of 2016.

According to Feely, touchbacks have decreased from 67 to 59 percent from 2015-2016. Kickoffs traveling to the endzone have fallen from 90 percent to 76 percent. NFL senior vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said the rule change woud require four weeks of data to analyze, but the commissioner has already decided after 33 games the data won't be compelling enough to consider an in-season change.

For evidence of how teams are using this rule in their favor, look no further than the Patriots' 27-0 domination of the Texans on Thursday Night Football, wherein Bill Belichick, who admitted the rule benefited his team in a Week One win in Arizona, again repeatedly instructed Stephen Gostkowski to use pop-up kicks that landed within the 10-yard line.

On two occasions, the Pariots forced fumbles on kickoff returns, both leading to short fields and scores on a night Houston's offense was dreadful and their own was led by Jacoby Brissett, a third-rounder in his first NFL start, against one of the league's more lethal pass rushes the first two weeks.

The rule change was supposed to decrease returns, considered by the NFL "the most dangerous play in the game." The returns have increased, but the NFL once again has talked about the importance of player safety, but it's apparently not important enough to consider immediately recttifying a change many of us predicted would have this exact counter effect.

The NFL won't make a change in season, but these numbers will strengthen the belief my many that the kickoff could soon be a thing of the past.