Bengals brace for possible changes to onside kick with new 4th-and-15 proposal

The Bengals are preparing for a rule change that would all but eliminate the onside kick

The future of the onside kick is in doubt as the NFL gets ready to vote on a fourth-and-15 proposal that would change the way a team can get the ball back after a score. 

Instead of hoping for a good bounce on an unpredictable onside kick, teams would be allowed to go for it on fourth-and-15 from their own 25-yard line. If they convert, then the drive continues. Teams will only be allowed to do this twice per game. 

Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kick attempts were recovered last season according to NFL Research. There were only seven fourth-and-15s in 2019 and two were converted, which is a significantly higher success rate (28.6 percent). 

The Bengals could like the option of being able to go for it on fourth-and-15. The proposal should favor an offense that includes A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Auden Tate and No. 1 pick Joe Burrow.

"I think a lot of it is going to depend on who your quarterback is. Is he a playmaker?" special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons told "Guys like Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson. You'll see guys like that use it."

NFL teams will still have the option of calling an onside kick. The Bengals think time will be a big factor in the decision. 

"There are certainly some timing things that come into it," Simmons said. "You're down three points with 2:05 to go in the game. The clock is going to start on the touch on the kick. If you go onside kick there and don't get it, you still have the two-minute warning. If you do a fourth-and-15 play and the offense uses more than five seconds, now the game clock is under two minutes and if you're unsuccessful in executing, the defense takes over and takes a knee if you have no timeouts left the game is over because it's under two minutes.

"In the past, five seconds to go in the game, you attempt the onside kick and recover it and you have enough time for a play. But the fourth and 15 alternative from the 25 is a Hail Mary."

Owners will vote on multiple rule changes, including fourth-and-15, this week. If it passes, head coach Zac Taylor and the rest of the Bengals' coaching staff have to find a way to use it to their advantage. 

Going for it on fourth-and-15 after a score could become a weapon for a young Bengals offense that hopes to exceed expectations this season.