The NFL will vote this week on a proposal to, in what is expected to be a one season experiment, change the way teams attempt onside kicks by, well getting rid of the onside kick. By the 2021 season we could see the rule changed to include kickoff’s which would be a huge and dramatic change to the game. The actual proposal on the table for now is in place of the onside kick a team could receive the ball at their own 30 and the play serves as a fourth down and 15 to go.
The reasoning or rational if you will for this substituted play for the onside kick is the fact that since the NFL changed the rules for onside kicks (you must have five players on either side of the ball as well as you cannot line up more than one yard off the line and no blocking by the kicking team is allowed for 10 yards down field) it has made the play much safer for the players but it has also made it much more difficult to actually pull off.
I like the idea from a safety point of view but also know that the team attempting the fourth and 15 because they are down late in the game will now be attempting a fourth and 15 against what might possibly be a gassed defense, that was just scored against, thus possibly making the numbers of successful tries eventually surpass anything that we ever saw with the onside kick prior to the rule changes. I wonder if this is too much of an advantage for some teams thus shifting the entire way games are played and coached, especially in the second half of games. I would assume that the opposite might happen much more often and you might see a team with a high powered offense who is up in the game using this play to cement the game. This is something that you rarely saw a team do with the onside kick even prior to the rule changes.
The idea is also part of a possible plan to adopt Rodger Goodell’s original idea of using the same play for kickoffs. As dramatic a change this rule would be for onside kicks it will be even more dramatic on kickoffs. The concept is that in place of the kickoff you receive the ball at your 30 yard line and you can choose to go for it as a fourth and 15 or punt the ball from that location as your kickoff. Some in the NFL prefer this as all statistics show far fewer injuries during punts than during kickoffs. In recent years, in an effort to not be eventually sued out of business the NFL has focused on coming up with any new rules they can to make the game as safe as possible.
Now as a fan I for sure want the players to be safe or as safe as humanly possible when you play a physical contact sport. I just wonder how many of these rules they will change before we no longer recognize the game that we all so love. So the Phinsider Question Of The Day is do you support these kinds of huge rule changes in the name of safety for the players or do you see this veering too far away from the game that you so love to the point where you may no longer recognize it?