NFL tables proposed fourth-and-15 onside kick alternative

Getty Images

The proposed alternative to onside kicks was not passed by NFL owners at their virtual league meeting on Thursday.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the proposal to allow teams to try a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard-line as a way to regain possession in lieu of an onside kick has been tabled. There will be further discussion on the proposal in the future, which did not come up for a formal vote on Thursday.

Per Pelissero, an informal show of hands showed that the proposal would not have passed in such a vote.

PFT reported on Thursday that some opponents of the proposed change believed that it would lead to the elimination of the kickoff altogether. The NFL changed kickoff rules a couple of years ago with an eye toward player safety and some of them, particularly the inability for members of the coverage team to take a running start, have contributed to a drop in successful onside kicks when it’s obvious a team is going to try one.

A drop in comebacks meant less excitement late in some games, which was part of the reason why the alternative was proposed. For now, though, that excitement will have to come from other methods.

36 responses to “NFL tables proposed fourth-and-15 onside kick alternative

  1. Best NFL news of the week. There is an alternative if you want more exciting games: Allow teams to line up three yards behind the kickoff line for all kickoffs, and for declared onside kicks, no limits (on number of yard behind the line) on lining up should be enforced.

    The 4th and 15 proposal was problematic for several reasons, especially the propensity for a (controversial) defensive penalty to result in an automatic first down.

  2. I like the idea a reader proposed elsewhere on this site where they can try changing the rule so that the kick need to go only 5 or, maybe, 7 yards before they can recover the ball. That means the receiving team can be positioned 5 or 7 yards away from the kick instead of 10 which, safety-wise, would also serve to reduce the force on that first line of blockers.

  3. Why are they messing with the kickoff? The thing they should be looking for at is the pro bowl. Something no one cares about. Leave the kick off as it is.
    Football is a man’s game.

  4. They all heard a certain individual was lobbying in favor of 4th and 15 and that made them all realize it was a bad idea.

  5. Good. If anything, just alter the distance ball must travel or distance lined up off the ball.

  6. Is anyone legitimately disappointed that this didn’t get voted in? Even people in favor of the rule change seemed lukewarm about the idea.

  7. This is good… Now fix the onside kick so it’s actually possible to recover one.

    My thoughts are to go back to the original formation and rules being allowed for an intentional onside kick. Basically as long as the kick is onside, it becomes legal once again and the recovery percentages go back to what they were. Nearly all onside kicks are obvious in advance by the receiving team anyway and they send their hands team out.

    Keep the new formation for kickoffs in general, and if someone wants to attempt a surprise onside kick from the safer formation, then that’s fine, and the element of surprise may make it easier to recover.

  8. Elway will be disappointed. He first proposed a come from behind scheme a year ago after watching Mahomes beat the Broncos twice in one game, his first game as a pro.

    From here, the Broncos can either get better, or propose more rule changes to help them not lose by as much (53-9 in 2019) like penalizing opposing teams for their fans cheering too loud, an old Elway complaint revived!

  9. They also made permanent that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed. While the concept is good – the rule should be that all potential scoring plays are reviewed. If a close play at the goal line is ruled a touchdown – it is subject to review but if it is ruled not a touchdown – it requires a challenge. Its the same play – that doesnt make sense.

  10. As someone here mentioned, and a post from awhile ago proposed, making it so the ball only has to travel 7 yards is a perfect fix. Simple, elegant, effective.. Checks all the boxes. I’d prefer to go back to the original kickoff rules and generally stop trying to manufacture results and keep the game the way we’ve grown to love it as much as possible.

  11. Can’t someone figure out how to improve the existing on side kick to make it easier to make?
    Do we have to drastically change the game? Otherwise leave it be….

  12. They should let onside kick go back to how it was a few years ago where teams could overload one side. Players are only running 10 yards or so to get the ball so it’s not like there were tons of full speed collisions before. They fixed something that wasn’t broke.

  13. herbalicious187 says:
    May 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm
    Good. If anything, just alter the distance ball must travel or distance lined up off the ball.

    Or teach kickers how to kick the ball properly for an onside kick. 90% of the “failed” onside kicks are a result of terrible kicks, not lack of a running start. The running start used to make up for the awful kicks, because you could clobber the receiving team. Now you actually have to kick the ball well for a chance to recover.

  14. Wow, NFL owners being resistant to change despite clear scientific evidence that we’ve had for 10, 20 years, of the danger and barbarism of the kickoff play? Its almost like owners are naively clinging to the past in a way that will cost them the future. Keeping things the same will continue the downward spiral of this decaying old fashioned league.

  15. Good that was stupid. I liked my stupid idea better, put the ball on the 50, teams line up on the 40’s, blow the whistle and see who recovers it. I think we did something like that in high school…

  16. Good! this needs to go and Review for pass interference is gone. They are headed in the right direction.

  17. I think they should go for the change. Just think- a team has the potential to erase a 24 point deficit in the last ~3 minutes of a game.

  18. Keep the “foot” in football and maintain the importance of special teams.

    Think creatively within special teams to make the onside kick relevant, not removing the onside kick

  19. Since everyone says offsideS these days, I’m shocked no one is calling it an onsideS kick

  20. I think there might have been a concern that the conversion rate might be too high for the 4th and 15 option. I used the Game Play Finder on Pro Football Reference’s website and found for the past 5 seasons, the conversion rate on exactly 4th and 15 was 28% (6 First Downs, 1 TD in 25 attempts) & for 4 and 15+ the conversion rate was 19.5% (18 First Downs, 4 TD’s in 113 attempts). The onside kickoff conversion rate over the same 5 seasons was 10.4% (13 conversions in 125 attempts).

    On the one hand, the 4th and 15 option may have been too gimmicky and on the other, the conversion rate might be too high. How much of an effort does the league want to make to help – or reward – teams that are losing?

  21. joetoronto says:
    Why is America full of a bunch of old fuddy duddys that fear change?

    Why is America increasingly full of self-worshiping kids with the attention spans of gnats, who don’t respect tradition and think neither the world nor history began until they arrived in it? Why do they treat life like nothing more than a video game for their amusement, with ever-changing rules for whenever they get bored (a daily occurrence).
    “Here were are, now entertain us” indeed.

  22. This is so simple to fix without the extreme measures the NFL took and it basically ruined the 2 most exciting plays in sports = the kickoff and on-sides kick.

    Take a note from the AAF and move the players closer together that way they don’t get up to full speed and they’ll be less injuries. The NFL needs to stop with all the knee-jerk reactions eveytime they think something needs changed, they need to think about it and come up with a few options and then weight those options and use the best one instead of just coming up with one bad option and running with it!

  23. Doug says:
    May 28, 2020 at 4:39 pm
    I think there might have been a concern that the conversion rate might be too high for the 4th and 15 option.

    That’s the exact reason I was against it, why does the NFL continually want/try to give these trailing teams more & more chances to win? It’s almost like they’re taking their marching orders from Vegas because Vegas wants the games to be tighter which increases their chances of winning even more.

  24. dregonspengler

    Wish I could give you 100 thumbs up, excellent comment and right on the money!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.