While our community’s reaction to the NFL’s proposal to allow an alternative to the onside kick that sees a scoring team attempt a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25 on an untimed down (that being a last-second addition) was strongly negative, the broader response was far more mixed.
That was also reflected in the fact that an informal straw poll of owners went down the middle, 16-16, as to whether or not they would have voted to pass the rule. What that at least shows, at a bare minimum, is that the league and their owners are interested and engaged in finding some type of alternative to the current onside kick, which under current rules has made it a virtually impossible play to convert, while still being among the most dangerous.
Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II came out and said that the team did not support the proposal, feeling that it was too much of a gimmick, but he acknowledged that the league and Roger Goodell made it clear that the conversation remains open.
“That one got the most discussion, and there’s interest in possibly looking at what we can do here, but there wasn’t enough support for this particular proposal, and the Commissioner left it open that we’re still open to ideas about what to do about thisv”, he said last week, according to Bob Labriola.
“I think everybody agrees that it would be good to have some form of onside kick available to teams trying to make a comeback”, he added. “Under the current rules for the kickoff, it has become almost an impossible play to make. I’m skeptical that we’ll come up with something for the 2020 season at this point, but the Commissioner did leave the door open for further discussion on it”.
According to Pro Football Reference, only 12 of 114 onside kick attempts over the past two seasons were successfully converted. Two of them actually happened in the same game by the Atlanta Falcons last year. In none of those cases did the team who had to attempt an onside kick actually win the game.
As Rooney said, Goodell left the door open for discussion. While I don’t see them getting something passed for this season, I do think we are going to see some type of change in the near future. Whether that is a full alternative to the onside kick, or a change to the way that the onside kick is conducted, that remains to be seen, but the NFL doesn’t want the onside kick to be just another boring play that is also more dangerous than the average.