John Elway on onside kicks: We’ve got to try something

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Broncos General Manager John Elway is a member of the league’s competition committee, and he recognizes that something has to be done about onside kicks.

Asked about the Pro Bowl experimenting with an onside kick alternative of allowing the kicking team to line up on offense with a fourth-and-15, Elway noted that only eight onside kicks were recovered during the 2019 season and that the changing rules on kickoffs are making it harder for trailing teams to come from behind in the fourth quarter.

“Not many onside kicks were recovered this year, so we’ve got to try and do something where you have a chance to catch up,” Elway said, via the Denver Post.

But while Elway is open to changing the rules to find an alternative to onside kicks, he also noted that he’s only one member of the competition committee, and the competition committee can only advise the owners, who have final say over the rules.

“I look forward to that so I can at least give my opinion on it and then they do what they want,” Elway said.

Perhaps the Pro Bowl can show the owners how an onside kick alternative would work. But convincing three-fourths of the owners to change the rule won’t be easy.

47 responses to “John Elway on onside kicks: We’ve got to try something

  1. Maybe it should be hard to recover an onside kick. The team that plays the better game for 58 minutes shouldn’t be penalized by some flukey bounce on a kick anyway. Answer: Don’t fall so far behind. 4th and 15 way too easy. At least 20 or 25 is more reasonable.

  2. The problem is penalty on the try.

    If an illegal contact can get the 1st down and the defacto onsides recovery, then this rule is broken and will be broken.

    The first step here is to fix illegal contact.

    Make illegal contact a 10 yard penalty, no automatic first down. Then you might be able to do a rule like this effectively

  3. Why always lean to make it easy for the offense? 4th and 15 are you kidding? It should be 4th and 25.

  4. Just leave it be,the experiment in the pro bowl is xfl cartoon,how bout not getting whupped and you wont need to try one,they are to be a long shot.

  5. 4th and 15 from your own 25 yard line seems like a pretty big gamble to me. So if you don’t make it the team that’s already kicking your butt gets the ball almost in the Red Zone? Hmmm…. Seems like a big risk. How many 4th and 15s are converted? Probably a much higher percentage than onside kicks are recovered, so there’s that. But it’s still a fairly big risk. 4th and 25 is silly. How many teams would try that?

  6. Sure, I don’t expect there would be any controversial penalty calls on those 4th and 15 plays, defensive holding, automatic first down, PI etc. The officials have too much power over the outcome of games as it is.

  7. Go back to the way it was for onside kicks only. A team would need to declare an onside kick and then line up as they originally did. Most onside kicks are expected anyway. Then keep the safer kick off formation for deep kicks and and surprise onside kicks.

  8. Allow the spot of the kick to be some to-be-determined distance outside the hash marks. This will lengthen the time it takes for the ball to travel 10 yards down the field on an angle, and restore the likelyhood of a successful onside kick to previous levels.

    (Also eliminate the Pro Bowl, and do the experimentation during preseason.)

  9. Hate the 4th and 15 option, it’s a terrible idea.

    Just restore on side kicks to the way they were, that’s the best solution.

  10. We can see the effect of all these tweaks they are making. It’s a butterfly effect and we have to live with what we have. It will never be the same game we knew. No matter what we do.

  11. It’s very easily remedied. Limit the receiving team to 4 players between the 45 and the 50 and 3 players between the 50 yard line and the other 45.

  12. First, I find the narrative that an on side kick needs to be easier absurd. Secondly, what needs to change is the creativity of special teams coaches. Why are so few pooch kicks attempted?

  13. august589 says:
    January 25, 2020 at 9:10 am

    What you can try is reverting back to the way it was.

    charger383 says:
    January 25, 2020 at 9:40 am

    go back to the way it was


    Agree with both of you.

  14. That is simply ludicrous. Why should the league give a team who is trailing an advantage? That is outright game fixing. If an onside kick is to be made easier, then make it the same and therefore easier for both teams. That means a team that is ahead can do the same and recover an onside kick more easily after scoring a go ahead touchdown.

  15. Seems like a fairly obvious fix no? Use the old kick-off rules for onsiders only. It’s not nearly as dangerous of a play as a regular kick.

  16. I say in the last half of the 4th quarter teams can elect to make the extra point a 55 yard kick. You make it you get the ball back on your 25. You miss it opposing team gets it at the spot of the kick.

  17. It would be nice if writers actually provide INFORMATION before just throwing this out there.

    FACT: The onside kick recovery rate in the past was around 15% – the SAME success rate as 4th-and-15. THAT’S WHY THEY CHOOSE IT SPECIFICALLY.

    FACT: The old onside kick rules are NOT coming back. Data points to 4x higher rate of injuries/concussions on that one play than any other.

  18. So, we need to reward a team thats getting beaten all game long with a way to get the ball back and have a chance at a miracle win at the end? No.

  19. I’ve always wondered why there are kickoffs after a team scored.

    To me if the defense has failed to stop a team from scoring, then it should not benefit by getting the ball back.

    I would change things – eliminate onside kicks completely and force the scoring team to score a touchdown and then a two pointer. Then after doing all that work, the offense should get the ball back under 2 minutes of play at their own 10 yard line. This would force the team to travel the entire length of the field (or the length of a needed field goal) all while having to fight the pressure of a potential safety and the clock running out.

    There could be an onsides kick to start the game, but after that, just regular kickoffs – which could force some creative use of kicking distances to get the ball back if unrecovered by the other team.

  20. How about this? Let’s instead change the rules of football the way things used to be. I much prefer a 20-17 slugfest than a 45-41 track meet. The NFL changes the rules to get new fans because they knew we long-timers weren’t going away. I get it. But let’s bring back the ability for DBs to play aggressively. Let’s make the WRs have to fight to win a contested catch. Keep the safety rules if you want and even SOME of the QB protections but these rules favoring offenses aren’t working. It’s like professional soccer taking away the offsides penalty or eliminating the goalkeeper. Doesn’t work.

  21. The onside kick should NOT be replaced with a scrimmage play; It is too easy to end up with a defensive penalty which results in a first down.

    A better idea is to change the kickoff rules to allow players to get a running start from three or five yards behind the kickoff line. This would still keep the players from getting the extra long running starts without virtually eliminating the chance of recovering the onside kick.

  22. How about the team that scores gets the ball back at the 20 yard line. They keep the ball until the other team stops them. Kinda like “makem takem” in street basketball. If you want to give the other team a chance, eliminate punting for the team in the lead during the 4th quarter. There..I SOLVED the problem.

  23. I’d rather they eliminate the extra point. 2 point conversion try after every TD. And change the OT rules so each team is guaranteed a possession. Don’t care that much about the onside kick.

  24. Replace the onside kickoff with a single 50 yard field goal. If unsuccessful, you lose! If successful and three points are not enough, you still lose!

  25. The problem with 4th and 15 is that it’s way too easy for passing teams, way too hard for running teams. For a run-first team without a great quarterback, it’s practically impossible.

    this is too crazy to be adopted, but the yards should depend on whether it’s a pass play or run play. 20 yards to maintain possession if the ball is passed, or 10 yards to maintain if it’s a run. That would also keep defenses from playing 6 dbs 10 yards off the line.

    And doing it from the 20 is just too far back. If it fails, the winning team shouldn’t gain possession in the red zone. The play should be run from the same place as the kickoff, so that the consequence for a failed attempt is the same as a failed onside kick.

  26. For every one-sides kick attempt there are at least as many head-scratching punts by teams down a ton late. Keep the on-sides rule as is and embrace going for it on 4th down when you’re down by three scores in the 4th quarter.

  27. Why all of a sudden is there this need to “do” something about onsides kicks? The onside kick is in the rule book for teams facing a desperate situation because they are too many points behind. It’s supposed to only have about a 10% success rate, otherwise you would have teams doing after every score.

  28. What is the difference in the injury rates from the previous onside kickoff rules? If that number is significant, then forget going back to stacking men on one side of line. Perhaps make the ball only have to travel less than 10 yards. Say 5 yards? Move the kick off 5 yards closer downfield, so the white line can still be used easily to judge that distance.

    If the team decides to kick it regularly, the extra 5 yards would indeed cause more touchbacks. Thus, less injuries.

  29. I love football but im not trying to watch 4 1/2 hour football games should of just let the onside kick the way it was seems like everytime a team or player get beat in overtime or can’t recover a onside kick we got to change the rules turning the NFL into WWE….

  30. John Elway on onside kicks: We’ve got to try something

    I’ve got a novel idea, try going back to the way it was before all the changes, that worked really well as I remember it!

  31. Making up problems that don’t really exist(OT rules, on-sides kicks, etc) and then coming up with horrible ideas on how to fix those made up problems along with the ever increasing cost of attending events is what will crater the popularity of the NFL just as it did for NASCAR!

    Do they not notice all of the empty seats at a lot of stadiums?

    If its not broken don’t fix it!

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