NFL pushes back against perception that fourth-and-15 is a precursor to killing the kickoff

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When Commissioner Roger Goodell first floated the concept of a fourth-and-15 alternative in a Time profile from 2012, it was mentioned as a potential replacement to the kickoff. As the NFL closes in on adopting the fourth-and-15 play as an alternative to the onside kick, the NFL wants people (specifically, the owners who will be voting on the proposal) to understand that it’s not a first step toward getting rid of the kickoff.

Per a league source, opposition to the fourth-and-15 play apparently comes from the perception that it will lead to the elimination of the kickoff entirely, with the fourth-and-15 play becoming the manner in which the ball changes hands after a score. (Actually, I’d be fine with that.) But the league insists that the fourth-and-15 play flows solely from a desire to provide teams with an alternative to the onside kick, given the reduced success rate resulting from changes to the kickoff formation — specifically, the elimination of the running start.

A series of changes to the kickoff arising from high-impact collisions that result in concussions and potential neck injuries have made the kickoff less relevant, since many kicks end up resulting in touchbacks, with placement of the ball at the 25. Similar injury concerns relate to the punt play, which also results in players colliding while moving in opposite directions at full speed.

Actually, the best outcome (although it would eliminate the surprise onside kick entirely) could entail using the fourth-and-15 play as the full replacement for the onside kick and adopting the XFL’s electric-football kickoff, which keeps 10 players from each team 10 yards apart in the receiving team’s territory, freezing them in place until the ball is caught by the return specialist. This approach packs the players in tightly, reducing the total force of the impacts between blockers and would-be tacklers and limiting the chances of concussions or catastrophic injuries.

Packers CEO Mark Murphy has said he’s intrigued by the XFL’s kickoff formation. Maybe others are, too. Maybe, eventually, the NFL will experiment with the XFL’s kickoff formation.

So maybe the onside alternative isn’t the first step toward getting rid of the kickoff. Maybe it’s the first step toward embracing the XFL’s revolutionary approach to the kickoff play.

20 responses to “NFL pushes back against perception that fourth-and-15 is a precursor to killing the kickoff

  1. The league office doesn’t want to have to admit the XFL came up with a genius idea. They have to save face.

  2. I dont like the 4th and 15, because it gives more advantage to the teams with the best QBs. There is already too much value in the QB.

    Maybe they could make it 4th and 10, with no forward passes.

  3. The xfl FIXED the kickoff THIS year..it took 2 or 3 times to get use to it, but it WAS pretty ingenious. Watch one.

  4. So this means that good teams will continue to have to ball and score more often than the bad teams they are playing. Good team scores, now they get to do a 4th and 15 and keep the ball. ????????????

  5. I hate this 4th and 15 idea so much. It is going to kill the bad team upsetting a good team scenario? Does anyone really think that a good team that is down a score at the end of the game wont be able to convert this against a bad team that is praying to hang on? So stupid.

  6. Michael E says: “The league office doesn’t want to have to admit the XFL came up with a genius idea. They have to save face.”
    ————————–

    Just stop with that ridiculous nonsense.

    The NFL is a copycat league. They take what works and adapt it, whether it’s the college spread offense to the Cover 2 defense from years ago. And the XFL is already dead, so really, who cares?

  7. The XFL did a great job with kickoffs. This 4th and 15 sounds like I before E except….. Please stop with the gimmicks.

    So many teams are going to take advantage of this rule in unexpected ways. I feel like Belichick abuses a rule every year just to show how dumb it is.

  8. Kickoffs are exciting plays and runbacks are great

    4th and 15 is a terrible idea, just stop with this stupid stuff

  9. .
    put kickoffs back to normal.

    That stats show kickoffs DO NOT cause the injuries they claim.
    NOTHING shows kickoffs caused injuries more than .01% of the time.

  10. I think many people hate the 4th and 15 because it is a change and we do not like change. I remember we all balked at moving the PAT to the 15. Back in the 90s, we balked at the 2pt conversion and now… I don’t hear one person complaining about it.

    Some have commented that the 4th and 15 give the advantage to the teams with good QBs. Well, for one, I think it said somewhere that a team can only use it twice. Second, doesn’t really matter who the QB is… if a team is converting 4th and 15 against you, you have bigger issues with your defense.

    I love the idea and I look forward to it.

  11. “Does anyone really think that a good team that is down a score at the end of the game wont be able to convert this against a bad team that is praying to hang on?”
    _____________

    If the team is so good that they’re basically assured of picking up a 4th and 15 then why are they trailing late? And if the other team is so bad they can’t hold on why would I want them to get the victory?

  12. I don’t really care if it’s a replacement for the kickoff or not, it’s a stupid idea. It’s just a gimmick to supposedly enhance excitement at the end of a game.
    The NFL has to decide if it’s a sporting event or entertainment. If it’s a sporting event, then sometimes one team is better than another and sometimes you’ll have blow-outs.
    If it’s just entertainment, then fine, go ahead and tweak the rules, add gimmicks, change the rules for the losing teams so they can catch up and make sure every game is decided in the last 2 minutes. I won’t watch that, but go ahead and do it.

  13. dyims says:
    May 28, 2020 at 11:43 am
    So this means that good teams will continue to have to ball and score more often than the bad teams they are playing. Good team scores, now they get to do a 4th and 15 and keep the ball. ????????????

    ——————-
    No, it does not mean that. The proposal limits its usage to 2 times per game, so the “good” team can not keep the ball the entire game. And, why does everyone that complains about this keep thinking a 4th and 15 is an automatic conversion? If your team is good enough that they can convert 4th and 15 every time, won’t they already be scoring 35+ points per game? And, if you are playing a “bad” team, why wouldn’t you just kick like normal, so you could pin them back, instead of trying to converting 4th and 15 and giving them great field position if you don’t make it?

  14. Bad idea. Totally.

    How many penalties, besides offsides or early touch, occur on the onsides kick attempt? Zero. And if the defense commits one, the yards are assessed but not possession.

    In this thing, possession is the offense’s and several defensive penalties can result in an automatic first down. Touchy stuff leading to appropriate screaming at TVs and stomping on the sideline.

    Nobody has the ball at the start of a free kick. Keep it that way, and play better earlier in the game.

    Here’s my idea (is it already in the rules or has been suggested?): allow the defending team the option of a 20-second clock run-off instead of the penalty. That way there is something dissuading for the kicking team and a real value benefit for the receiving team.

  15. I oppose any idea that Florio likes. This is absolutely another attempt to start phasing out the kickoff.

  16. kenmasters34 says:
    May 28, 2020 at 11:15 am
    I dont like the 4th and 15, because it gives more advantage to the teams with the best QBs. There is already too much value in the QB.

    Maybe they could make it 4th and 10, with no forward passes.

    —–
    So instead of giving an advantage to teams with the best QBs we can instead give it to the teams with the best RBs?

  17. Why in the heck does there have to be rule changes every single season it’s ridiculous leave the game alone!

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