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“4th and 15” onside kick alternative once again proposed as possible new NFL rule

NFC Championship - Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Goodbye onside kick, hello 4th and 15?

Last year the NFL rules committee rejected the Denver Broncos’ alternative onside kick proposal, which gave trailing teams a one-time opportunity to eschew a regular kickoff and go for it on 4th and 15 from their own 35. If you converted successfully then you would retain possession, otherwise the other team gets the ball.

Well we’re giving it another shot this year, but with some adjustments. This time the Philadelphia Eagles have proposed the rule, which would see 4th and 15 attempted from the team’s own 25, but you can use this twice in any quarter. If there’s a defensive penalty that yields an automatic first down, then the offensive team retains possession and resumes a normal series. Should an offensive penalty occur to create a 4th and 25 or 4th and 20 situation, that team cannot just change their minds and kickoff — they have to run another play.

One major change is that a team does not have to be trailing to use the onside kick alternative, so a team could play keep away while ahead if they feel like it, or risk giving the opposition great field position.

24 of the NFL’s 32 owners will have to approve this rule on May 28th, so cross your fingers if you’re a fan of this idea.

Onside kicks have been recovered at roughly a 10% rate over the past two seasons, which was expected when the NFL changed onside kick rules that forbade players from getting a running start. Player safety has been the main reason behind the drastic changes to kickoffs and special teams in general.

I’m personally for the experiment — the NFL did try this at the Pro Bowl this year and Kirk Cousins was intercepted by Earl Thomas — but I think you should be able to do this alternative however many times you want. Another concern I have is that if “standard rules” apply then that indicates it will be a timed down, which is pretty important when factoring in time and score. Beyond that, it’s new and exciting and I hope it passes this time.


4th and 15 onside kick alternative - Yay or Nay?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    (474 votes)
  • 30%
    (289 votes)
  • 19%
    Yay, but with modifications
    (182 votes)
945 votes total Vote Now