AAF plan to replace onside kicks showing interesting results

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The upcoming Alliance of American Football is going to try some new things, making them an interesting trial balloon for potential rules changes for other much larger professional leagues.

Early on, they announced the elimination of the kickoff (teams will simply begin with the ball at their own 25-yard line). They’re also doing away with the onside kick for late-game situations, by giving teams a chance to convert a fourth-and-12 from their own 28-yard line.

According to the league’s website, a scrimmage between two of the teams Sunday featured two attempts of the new concept. The San Diego Fleet (coached by former Rams coach Mike Martz) converted one of the two attempts to keep the ball, and another fell a yard short.

I hate onside kicks, because of the injury factor,” Martz said. “There’s some hellacious collisions on those things. And I’ve always been a fan of [the conversion concept], I just didn’t want to practice it, you know? Not a fan of [being behind], necessarily. But, fortunately, we got two in the game, [converted] one of them, but it was fun. That part of it was fun. Our guys had a lot of fun with it.”

The NFL’s recent changes to kickoff rules have largely made onside kicks a moot point, but the AAF alternative is something they ought to watch.

“I’ve been watching a lot of football recently, and you look at the percentages of what an on-side kick, what the success rate is, and when it’s not successful, it’s like the most dud play in all of football,” Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovici said. “That 4th-and-12 was awesome. We got one of them and the other we came up just a hair short. How much better is that? To give your quarterback and offensive line an opportunity to get their ball in their hands? You can do tons of different things to catch a defense off-guard on a 4th-and-12. Personally, I love kickers, but sometimes you’d rather have it in your hands.”

It’s admittedly an extreme measure, and the NFL has proven itself to be averse to those, but the upstart league at least provides some evidence of what a change might look like. If player safety wasn’t enough of a reason to do it, the excitement of a high-risk play in your own end of the field will juice up the proceedings.

12 responses to “AAF plan to replace onside kicks showing interesting results

  1. Why not just be really radical and get rid special teams altogether? Go for 2 every TD and go for every 4th down?

  2. This seems a bit contrived. Why not reward the team with the greater than a touchdown lead and let them start at their own 25 after a touchdown?

  3. PFT – Is this just for late game situations or would a 4th and 12 opportunity be available at any time rather than kicking off (with I guess the exception of the beginning kickoffs for the game and 2nd half)?

  4. I don’t like eliminating kickoffs and handing the ball on the 25.
    Instead have a free kick / punt.
    Special teams muffs or big returns are interesting.

  5. It seems contrived, but probably comes closest to simulating the odds and results of the “old” onside kick (1 in 6 chance/winner takes possession on the kicking side).

    As much as I hate seeing some of these things go away, I’m reluctantly OK with it if it keeps football around instead of seeing it legislated away or becoming uninsurable.

  6. Wow!….I really like that idea of the 4th and 12 conversion instead of the onside kick. Would really add some juice and drama to a team’s comeback attempt. I can see my Brownie’s Baker Mayfield being a master of this tactic. Got a feeling that many of the other QB’s and OC’s would love to add this wrinkle to the game.

  7. It must be me as I’m a bit fuzzy this morning – but if the AAF has already eliminated kick-offs, in what scenario does a team line up for a kick-off and try an onsides kick?

  8. leroyquimby says:

    Why not just be really radical and get rid special teams altogether? Go for 2 every TD and go for every 4th down?

    Then they would really have to take the foot out of football.

  9. Who wants to see great QB’s get 4th and 12’s after every TD? Would Brady ever give up the ball?

    At some point, some 30 year old “hot coach of the year” will refuse to punt and kickoff. It will be like what has happened in the NBA with the 3 point revolution.

    No thanks.

  10. jonathankrobinson424 says:
    January 30, 2019 at 9:53 am
    This NOT the way real FOOTBALL should be played. No more Musical Miracle EVER to be seen again. No more Billy White shoes Johnson…No more Devin Hester…just a damm shame.


    I love football.

    The change will also lead to less injuries on kickoff, which are usually of the more serious variety (see Eric LeGrande and Kevin Everett)

    Somebody way back when thought that throwing the ball would ruin the manly game of American football. The change was for the better and led to the modern game and current strategy. I can see this going the same way.

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