Fourth-and-15 Proposal for Onside Kicks Fails
GREEN BAY, Wis. – A proposal to replace onside kicks with a fourth-and-15 from the kicking team’s 25-yard line was not approved at Thursday’s virtual league meeting.
According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, no vote was taken; a show of hands showed the proposal fell short of the necessary 24 votes for approval.
NFL player-safety rules reduced the number of concussions on kickoffs but also reduced the odds of the kicking team recovering an onside kick. In 2017, the kicking team was successful 21.7 of the time. The past two seasons, the kicking team was successful on only 11-of-109 onside-kick attempts (10.1 percent), including a feeble 4-of-53 (7.5 percent) in 2018. Last year, Atlanta recovered two in a Week 13 game against New Orleans. Prior to that, the kicking team was successful on only 3-of-37 (8.1 percent). Over the last decade, Green Bay converted 6-of-39 plays of third- or fourth-and-15, the 15.4 percent success rate being on par with the league overall.
The Philadelphia Eagles proposed the fourth-and-15 option.
“I think it would be interesting,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said on the “Wilde and Tausch” radio show on ESPN Wisconsin before the vote on Thursday. “We’re going to adjust and adapt to whatever the rules are. There were some unintended consequences with the changes to the kickoff rules in terms of the onside kick was one of them. It’s just extremely hard to get them now. Yeah, I’m all for whatever we think is going to help make the game as interesting as possible.”
Three rules changes were approved. So was a change that will allow teams to designate three players for return from injured reserve. In 2017, the league expanded it from one player to two. Last season, the Packers brought back tight end Jace Sternberger and safety Raven Greene.
Meanwhile, the league will use the preseason to experiment with a booth umpire/SkyJudge to help in instant replay. SI.com’s Albert Breer detailed that proposal:
The booth umpire would report to the head referee, have no power to stop the game or overrule the field officials and could only give his input until the play clock hit :25 (giving him roughly 15 seconds to chime in) or per the request of the referee.
The limits on time also would ensure only egregious misses would prompt intervention from the booth. “There’s always gray, any fan can go back and complain about calls, but you understand it’s part of the game,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s the ones that aren’t gray, that are black-and-white, that are clear-cut, either wrong or clear-cut misses, those are the ones that fans don’t accept.”
Approved 2020 Playing Rules Summary
2. By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful Try attempt.
8. By Competition Committee; expands defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.
9. By Competition Committee; prevents teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.
Approved 2020 Bylaws Summary
2. By League Office; increases the number of players that may be designated for return from two to three.