Skip to main content
Publish date:

Fun alternative to the onside kick among NFL rule change proposals

It seems the kickoff as we know it is in its final days.

There's been discussion for years about eliminating the kickoff, but then the XFL successfully reimagined the play by placing the kickoff and coverage teams across from each other, thereby keeping the play's excitement and pageantry while eliminating high-speed collisions.

It won't happen by 2020, but it would be shocking if every level of football isn't doing something like this by 2025.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37T-RL5WH58

And if teams aren't doing traditional kickoffs, they can't pull off traditional onside kicks, either.

On Tuesday, the NFL announced that the Philadelphia Eagles have proposed replacing the onside kick with a 4th-and-15 play from the "kicking" team's own 25-yard line. At present that option would only be available to trailing teams, but a smart tweak would be to grant that option to any team at any time.

NFL rule changes

This play would also eliminate high-speed collisions while actually giving the "kicking" team a chance to convert. NFL teams converted 21.2 percent of onside kicks from 1992-07, but a 2018 rule change saw teams go just 4-for-52 in 2018 and were 1-of-29 by the point of this article in November 2019.

A similar proposal -- which would have given a trailing team the option to go for a 4th-and-15 at its own 35, once per game and in the fourth quarter only -- was offered by the Denver Broncos last year but was voted down by NFL owners, though it passed through the competition committee by a 7-1 vote.

Again, it may not happen by 2020, but it seems like we're heading toward this version of the onside kick at every level of football sooner rather than later.

And then we can all get to work on fixing overtime.