Certainly the game has altered at the top flight. It is only when being there you begin to appreciate the fitness levels and therefore ability to keep the ball in play rather than the breather you get when the goalie picks up the ball. Not to mention the more recent rules around time allowed with the ball in your hand and back passes.
One other thing that springs to mind is the technology behind balls and boots. The ability to kick a ball more accurately than before will favour that rather than throwing or drop kicking.
Mind you, some goalies may kid themselves regarding such ability hence we observe some of the weird decisions mentioned in your OP.