NFL owners will vote on a proposed rule change this week that would allow teams to try an alternative to onside kicks at the end of games.
They’d run a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25 and retain possession of the ball if they were able to convert it. The impetus for the move, as stated in the proposal, is to create “excitement and competition late in the game” as onside kicks have become far more difficult to pull off due to changes to the rules on kickoffs.
Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty concedes that the tweak would bring more excitement and competition, but said on a Wednesday conference call that he’s not sure about adopting a rule that makes it easier for a losing team to come back.
“I think from the competitive side, especially as a defensive back, you don’t mind that pressure, going out there on fourth-and-15 or whatever the down and distance,” McCourty said. “It’s, ‘Alright, we’ve got to show up to win the game.’ But it’s just like conversely, if I’m a team and I’ve earned the right to be up, we’ve made the plays necessary to be winning in the fourth quarter or whatever it might be, I have a chance to go seal the game by just catching an onside kick, versus being out there for a fourth-and-15. From that standpoint, I don’t really understand it. We’re now basically rewarding you for being behind and that’s the only thing that for me is a negative of it. But at the same time, we’re in the entertainment business and an onside kick versus a fourth-and-15 is a lot more intriguing. So, we have no control over it. If they vote ‘yes,’ we’ll be out there preparing situationally how to stop fourth-and-15’s with the game on the line.”
The vote on the fourth-and-15 proposal and other proposed rules changes is set for Thursday.