Clock will run on onside kick alternative

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Clock management may be a factor in teams deciding whether or not to use the proposed fourth-and-15 alternative to the onside kick.

The rule proposal, which will be voted on by NFL owners, is envisioned primarily as an opportunity for teams to get the ball back after scoring. That’s what the onside kick has always been for, but in recent years kickoff rule changes have made onside kicks harder for the kicking team to recover, so this alternative has been proposed.

But it’s been largely overlooked that the rule proposal submitted to the owners says, “The Game Clock starts on the snap, and normal NFL timing rules apply.” So unlike an extra point, two-point conversion or kickoff for a touchback, time will run off the clock when teams use the onside kick alternative.

That may dissuade some teams from trying it. Consider, for instance, a team trailing 27-13 that scores a touchdown and kicks an extra point to make the score 27-20 with 2:01 left on the clock. That team might decide it’s better to try to kick off for a touchback and not waste the two-minute warning, rather than try to get the ball back with the onside kick alternative knowing that the next play will be run after the two-minute warning.

Or consider a team that scores a go-ahead touchdown with only a second or two left in the fourth quarter. That team might use the onside kick alternative just to have the quarterback kneel down and run the remaining time off the clock, rather than kick off and risk a kickoff return touchdown.

If the onside kick alternative is adopted, there may be some unintended consequences — and perhaps some clock management advantages for smart teams to find.

9 responses to “Clock will run on onside kick alternative

  1. This proposal is dumb and gimmicky and they should just bring back the old onside kick rules

  2. I am generally in favor of this rule, but I also think it could increase the incidence of “onside kicks” even outside of clutch situations. What if you have a QB like Mahomes? You’re up 7, want to be up 14. Then 21. I get it, and I said I generally favor the rule. But being aware that it could be “abused.” Just tweak it so that gets minimized.

  3. How many “automatic first down” flags will be thrown on this play I ponder. Right now the refs can not force a successful onside kick. With this rule change……..

  4. The current rule needs to go. Whether he old rules come back, or this new rule is given a try, it doesn’t matter, as long as something is tried.

  5. The scenario of a quarterback kneeling on a ‘kickoff’ is not allowed because a team must be trailing in order to use that option

  6. This is the dumbest thing in the world. Why they can’t just have all onside kicks like they used to be, only they can’t be used by surprise anymore.

    Everybody lines up just like they used to, but if you kick it deep with your guys getting a ten yard head start it’s a dead ball 15 yard personal foul.

    Blow the whistle the moment the ball is kicked deep.

    It eliminates surprise onside kicks anyway, but the NFL has already done that. So why not allow the normal onsides kick to continue. They’re just ruining this game.

    Especially when they decide to call defensive holding or PI on the 4th and 15 play?

    What then? It’s going to be an automatic first down and a conversion with the ‘kicking’ team keeping the ball.

    Giving the referees EVEN MORE discretion to decide how a game is called. Excuse my while I vomit.

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