Growing support for 4th-and-15 alternative to onside kicks

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A proposed rule change that would introduce an alternative to the onside kick is reportedly gaining support around the league.

PFT has learned, via a league source, that support is growing from a proposal that would allow teams to try a 4th-and-15 play in lieu of an onside kick. Rule changes that bar players on the kicking team from taking a running start limited the effectiveness of onside kicks last season and that limited the chances for teams to come from behind late in games.

The Eagles proposed the change. Teams would line up from their own 25-yard-line and retain possession if they were able to convert for a first down. If they can’t convert, the opposing team would take over from the spot of the dead ball. Teams would be allow to use the option twice in a game and the traditional onside kick would remain an option.

NFL owners are expected to vote on the proposed change at a meeting later this month.

30 responses to “Growing support for 4th-and-15 alternative to onside kicks

  1. No. Plain and simple.

    Making it easier to come back kinda negates all that went into getting ahead or behind in the first place, and makes outcomes more dependent on one play, which isn’t the way to go.

    Add to that the fact that a team may throw it up in hope of a pass interference call (what do they have to lose) and it becomes an even worse idea.

  2. as more and more of these “safety” (it’s not really about safety, it’s about what the powers that be think the fans want, i.e. more entertaining) rules are implemented, the less and less this game looks like actual football- perhaps arena league, but certainly not traditional football

  3. I hated this idea when it was first suggested. That there’s “growing support” for it makes me hate it more now. Please stop adding strange gimmicky rules that bastardize the game and affect game outcomes in cheap ways.

  4. I can’t decide if I like this or not but it sure would make the end of close games much more exciting.

  5. I don’t like this rule mostly because all it takes is a ticky tacky defensive holding, pass interference, or roughing the passer penalty to get this.

  6. Going from “rarely successful” to “pretty good chance” is not the right move.

    Reminds me of when the league underestimated the effect of changing extra point yardage. But this could have an even bigger impact.

  7. At first glance I thought this was a good solution to the on-side-kick change that killed that option. After reading the above comments, I see how this could be way too dependent on good referee call/no call subjective eyes, and we’ve all seen how well they’ve been doing! It also says that these plays are limited to two per game, is that one per half? If you can do them consecutively, then a team could theoretically come back from a 21 point deficit inside the two min warning…that doesn’t seem right.

  8. Contrary to what someone said, a 4th and 15 isn’t a Hail Mary. That’s still a make-able down. It seems like a 15 yard gain is probably easier than recovering an onside kick, especially at the end of the game when defenses are fatigued.

    But I like the concept.

  9. What happens if they get a TD on the play? Does it count?

    Is the play untimed?

    In that case, it is conceivable that a team scores 24 points with 1 second remaining on the clock. Do we want that option?

  10. Given that the old on side kick is out of the question due to the concussion issue,which is real dispite what the deniers say, and that the fact that the new on side kick procedure flat sucks, which it does, the 4th and 15 idea deserves consideration. The argument that a pass play invites tickytacky fouls could be used against either onside kick procedures. It would favor passing teams over rushing teams.At this point we must at least consider anything to bring back excitement lost to health considerations. Like it or not, the concussion issue isn’t going away.

  11. It’s almost like the league is trying to alienate its core fanbase.

  12. According to Rivers McCown, the NFL as a whole was 22 for 150 on 3rd/4th down and 15. That’s less than a 15% chance. That is actually slightly less than the conversion rate for onside kicks prior to the kickoff changes that effectively killed them off. It obviously needs to be changed, and I don’t think anyone else has any better ideas.

  13. This is a terrible idea. Teams will have figured out the best way to exploit this by week 3.

    I know, how about they fix what they screwed up with last year’s rule change instead? You know, the terrible idea that led to the creation of this terrible idea. SMH

  14. IMO, this rule only makes sense if you get completely rid of kickoffs. Contrary to punts, kickoffs are stupid, boring and dangerous for blockers (even on touchbacks).

  15. I dont like the idea..BUT if it must pass….make it from your own 5 yard line and make it a 20 yard gain! Chances are you will not make it and it will probably be a INT TD. Game is then definitly OVER!

  16. …I mighy also add, a onside kick is a play of PURE LUCK for the kickoff team if recovered….make it the same way if you make a new rule.

  17. …OR….make the Field Goal kicker try a 75 yard FG….he can do it like a
    kickoff but it has to go throught the uprights. IF he makes it,no points, BUT THEN then the offense can come back on the field. The point being, make it entertaining to the fans.

  18. eaglesfan036 says:

    I don’t like this rule mostly because all it takes is a ticky tacky defensive holding, pass interference, or roughing the passer penalty to get this.

    I wasn’t really opposed to this until I read this comment. This is a good point. I’d rather have an on-sides kick than a play where the referees can make another game-altering penalty.

  19. Norseman says:
    May 21, 2020 at 1:35 pm
    No. Plain and simple.

    Making it easier to come back kinda negates all that went into getting ahead or behind in the first place, and makes outcomes more dependent on one play, which isn’t the way to go.

    Add to that the fact that a team may throw it up in hope of a pass interference call (what do they have to lose) and it becomes an even worse idea.

    Probably right, but I always liked the onside kick. And to be frank, you didn’t have to use it when behind only.

  20. I definitely support player safety, but don’t think this is the right move. Possession is the most powerful variable there is in a football game, and it doesn’t seem fair to me that a team that just scored should immediately get another chance for the same offense to get the ball back from a regular offensive play.

    Making the play after a score a special-teams kicking play resets the playing field and interrupts whatever momentum (offensive or defensive) occurred just prior. It increases fairness.

    Teams convert 15-yard plays all the time. Yes, the stakes are higher from your own 25 but relatively speaking, this is too easy for what should be a very difficult desperation move (which, safe or not, the old onside kick managed very well).

    Even tweaking this idea a bit – say, making it 4th & 20, or starting at the 10 yard line – seems more fair. I don’t know what the perfect solution is.

  21. Dear Owners,

    Stop, stop, stop already! Football is not football anymore. And quit trying to sell this BS narrative that it’s about player safety. It’s about money, protecting your investment, and nothing else.

    – The Fans

  22. Please make it stop.

    Fix the kickoff don’t double-down on the bad changes already made.

  23. The NFL just like NASCAR won’t be happy until they run 70% of their fans off and then they’ll sit around scratching their heads wondering why those fans left!

  24. I don’t like this because there are artificial limits on when and how often it may be used. They should switch the kickoff to a punt and that reinstates the surprise factor with a meaningful chance of success.

  25. kevpft says:
    May 21, 2020 at 2:48 pm
    I definitely support player safety

    I do but only to a certain point and they passed that point a long time ago! Here’s why, because when these players sign up they KNOW there is an inherited risk of injury and for years they said that’s why they make the money they do, take that risk away and a lot the pay should go away along with the risk of injury. They’re making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars a year and if they don’t like the fact that they might get hurt then don’t sign the paper, it’s that simple! I don’t like seeing players get hurt but it’s the nature of the game just like my job(construction), I could get a life changing injury or not come home on any given day and I know that but it doesn’t stop me from doing the job. All of these rule changes in the name of player safety is making the game I once loved almost unwatchable and last year I missed several weeks of the regular season, I only watched 2 Playoff games and didn’t even watch the SB and the thing is I didn’t miss it one bit, if they keep going down this road I’ll probably quit watching all together and by all of the empty seats I’m seeing at stadiums the last few years and the number of empty seats is growing yearly I’m not the only one that’s sick and tired of it. Now days HS and college football is far more entertaining to me than the NFL is.

    OH and a 40sec play clock is entirely too much time and it slows the game down too much so now they fill all of the time with replay after replay after replay or even more commercials, enough is enough! Also if there are too many injuries on the kickoff then why not move the players closer together so they can’t get up to full speed before making contact and guess what, those injuries would drop dramatically, you don’t just get rid of the most exciting play in the game, that’s too extreme and was just a knee-jerk reaction!
    I often wonder if the people running the sport even have a thimble full of brain cells.

  26. Does the NFL Realize this 4th & 15 rule would be used by Patrick Mahomes? Mahomes would have a New Way to light up the NFL.

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