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Change to Kickoff rules hurts San Diego Chargers kicker Josh Lambo

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The recent rules change to set the Touchback starting line to the 25-yard line would have hurt Josh Lambo last year.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The NFL recently announced a 1-year trial rule change that would have touchbacks brought out to the 25-yard line, instead of the previous 20-yard line. This is not good news for Josh Lambo, who impressed coaches enough with booming leg to supplant Nick Novak as the starting Kicker for the 2015 season. Below you will see a record of all of his Kickoffs from last season:

Result Return Yards Net Rule Change -4 Yard Starting
Det
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -5 48 43 43 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -8 34 26 26 25
Return -6 23 17 17 25
Cin
Return -5 29 24 24 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Return 0 16 16 16 16
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -4 29 25 25 25
Min
Return -8 32 24 24 25
Return 4 21 25 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Cle
Return 0 35 35 35 35
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -7 37 30 30 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -5 38 33 33 25
Pit
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -7 30 23 23 25
Return -4 32 28 28 28
Touchback 20 25 25
GB
Return -4 37 33 33 33
Return 10 30 40 40 40
Touchback 20 25 25
Return 29 0 29 29 29
Oak
Return -9 32 23 23 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Onside
Onside
Onside
Bal
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -8 33 25 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Chi
Return -3 30 27 27 27
Touchback 20 25 25
Return 15 16 31 31 31
Touchback 20 25 25
KC
Return -2 24 22 22 22
Touchback 20 25 25
Jac
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Den
Return -9 33 24 24 25
Touchback 20 25 25
KC
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -2 24 22 22 22
Mia
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -6 25 19 19 25
Return -2 18 16 16 16
Return 0 26 26 26 26
Touchback 20 25 25
Return -5 23 18 18 25
Oak
Return -2 22 20 20 20
Return -9 32 23 23 25
Return 4 21 25 25 25
Return 4 36 40 40 40
Return -1 31 30 30 30
Den
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25
Touchback 20 25 25

Kickoffs Summary
No. Kickoffs 70
No. Returns 32
Touchback % 54%
Run Outs 23
Avg Runout Depth -5.3
Avg Return 28.0
Avg Starting 22.9
Rule Change Starting 25.6
-4 yard Starting 25.6

A few things stand out:

  • Lambo incurred touchbacks at a 54% clip.
  • Teams opting to return his kicks averaged 28 yards per return.
  • Most teams opted to return particularly deep kicks when Lambo "out-kicked" his coverage.

Digging deeper into the numbers, if last years' teams chose to kneel and take the ball out the same as they did for all kicks, the rules change moves opponents' starting field position from the 22.9 yard line to the 25.6 yard line. Even if they chose to be more conservative and never brought out a kick deeper than 4 yards in the endzone, they would still average the same.

The only silver lining is that the Chargers should see fewer returns. With no real motivation to try for the 25.6-yard line when you can have the 25 for free, the fans should expect the rule change to achieve its' goal of fewer returns and fewer injuries.