Could fourth-and-15 be a bargaining chip for the next TV deals?

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The adoption of the fourth-and-15 alternative to the onside kick may be a matter of when not if. And the “when” could be tied directly to a broader business move the NFL will soon be making.

As Big Cat mentioned on Friday’s PFT Live, it’s possible that the league has decided to hold back a device that will keep games in doubt (and hold higher ratings) longer until the next wave of broadcast negotiations. Instead of making the change spontaneously — and in turn making the TV rights more valuable — the league can use the new approach as a sweetener when the next deals are being finalized.

Networks should want this device. The mere availability of the play, which as proposed could be used twice per game per team, in theory keeps the team that is trailing in a game even if the team is trailing by three scores. While the odds of scoring and then converting the fourth-and-15 play and then scoring again and then converting another fourth-and-15 play and then scoring yet again is remote, it’s a needle that will be easier to thread than the current score, onside kick recovery, score, onside kick recovery, score formula.

With the economy taking a hit, the league may need to find ways to add value to the next wave of broadcast deals. Holding back something that could make the games more interesting (while also talking about it enough to catch the networks’ interest) may be the right way to play it.

Regardless, it’s in the best interests of the game to find ways to keep games interesting for as long as possible. And if the best argument that can be made against the fourth-and-15 play is that teams that built a lead should be allowed to hold the lead, the best response is this: It’s up to your defense to hold the lead.

3 responses to “Could fourth-and-15 be a bargaining chip for the next TV deals?

  1. Could fourth-and-15 be a bargaining chip for the next TV deals?
    If anyone is wondering why the game has been changed for the worse over the last couple decades, I present to you Exhibit A. The “safety” concern in many (not all) changes is purely a ruse to garner more support. Offense sells better than defense, going for it is more exciting than routine field goals, and on and on.

    Purists of the game such as I dislike changes that are purely profit driven. The NFL has become a profit vehicle based on entertainment rather than sporting competition. Every decision is made with an eye to profit rather than what is best for the sport or individual games.

  2. To be a bargaining chip, both sides need to value it AND want it.

    By the logic here, TV networks should have demanded a reduction in fee when NFL changed to the new rules for onside kick since it reduced the chance of longer games. That did not hapen.

    I don’t see TV networks assigning more value to one play that occurs relatively infreqently in the course of a game.

  3. …”which as proposed could be used twice per game per team…

    And the smarter coaches will use this tool in the 1st quarter twice after their first score and then another score hopefully in a row. Why would you not use this as soon as you can in the 1st quarter? This idea amounts to the same thing as a turnover; the other team has a shot with the ball but you earned it back from then to keep their offense on their sideline taking away a drive from them. And pulling that twice on them. Why would you just leave the opportunity to twice bury your opponent’s offense on the sideline for 12 out of 15 minutes of the first quarter?

    Coaches don’t believe in planning for failure, which is exactly what they’d be doing by not using this tool and instead saving it in an assumption they will stink for 55 out of 60 minutes, then use it in the 4th quarter.

    For example. what if you had Bucs vs Chiefs:
    Chiefs go down, score first drive, but then just kick off. 7-0. 6 minutes off the clock.

    Brady leads Bucs to score. 7-7. 6 more minutes off the clock.

    Bucs then do this sham 4th and 15 and convert, Bucs ball again. Bucs go down, say get a field goal. Bucs have two unanswered scores. 6 more minutes off the clock.

    Every camera is on Mahomes who has had one drive in over a quarter to start the game and is staring off in to space bored. Not a good visual NFL.

    Bucs choose their second allowance of the 4th and 15 sham. They convert. Bucs drive down and score, again. another 6 minutes off the clock.

    In a quarter and a half a national audience has seen Mahomes once in a quarter and a half.

    Is this what the NFL wants? And imagine if not the Chiefs, it’s the Saints. Cue the lawsuits, right? Especially if this leads to 21-0 leads and the other offense has had one drive, or hasn’t even stepped on the field and are down 21.

    “….Holding back something that could make the games more interesting”…

    Or make the games irrelevant after a quarter.

    Why would any coach NOT use this sham as soon as they get their first score in the 1st quarter and bury the other quarterback on the sideline before they do it to you?

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