It’s that time of year again, and teams are gathering virtually to discuss all of the rule changes from last year, and propose new ones. As we know, every year the NFL adds or changes one rule. Last year they experimented with challenging pass interference, and we all saw how that went. Most of the time we see rules proposed because of issues with a situation the year prior, like with New Orleans, or to improve player safety. In the last few years the NFL has moved the kick off line, eliminated wedge blocks, and revolutionized kick offs over the years in hopes to make them safer. The NFL’s rule changes have made kick offs a little safer, but it still looks like they’ll be eliminated in the coming years. As the NFL tries to eliminate kick offs, it allows for more touchbacks, and less production on returns.
Onside kicks have suffered the most as a result of rule changes. Teams are no longer able to stack one side of the line, shift, or take a running start. In 2019 only 4 of 52 (7.6%) of onside kick attempts were recovered, cutting the previous decades success rate in half. So now that it’s time for the NFL to suggest rule changes, onside kicks were acknowledged.
The tweet above suggests a very familiar rule change. If the NFL uses this rule, the AAF’s spirit will live on. The AAF had a similar rule that allowed teams the option of converting a 4th and 12 in their own territory instead of attempting an onside kick when trying to make a comeback.
Personally, I don’t love the idea, but there does need to be an alternate option to the onside kick if the success rate keeps falling. Player safety is the most important, and I don’t think their is any chance the NFL backtracks on any of the kick off rule changes. I don’t see why the NFL shouldn’t try this in the preseason. The NFL has already gotten a ton of backlash on twitter for the suggestion, but I won’t bash it. Teams would only be able to attempt this twice a game, and realistically their is so much risk in giving the ball up deep in your own territory, you’d really only see it at the end of games in comeback scenarios. I’m willing to watch it in the preseason and see how it goes.