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Anonymous NFL HC: Onside Kick Alternative Could Lead to Clock Manipulation

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 26, 2020

Footballs sit on the field before an NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

The NFL included an alternative to the onside kick in a list of rule-change proposals sent to teams last week:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Here’s the updated language of the proposed rule change on an alternative to the onside kick – and it *doesn’t* specify that a team must be trailing to attempt it. Limit of two tries per game, but this would open up strategic options. NFL teams will discuss next Thursday. https://t.co/VsLm0NI7XJ

Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer addressed the potential change with head coaches around the league and received responses from both ends of the spectrum, but one coach was especially hesitant.

"There are some interesting scenarios that could arise," the head coach texted Breer. "Take the lead with 5 seconds left, choose the 4th-and-15 option and run out the clock. ... Up by a score with 10 seconds left, instead of squibbing, take the 4th-and-15, run as much time off as possible, take a safety then kick with only a couple seconds left."

The Denver Broncos proposed the option to attempt a 4th-and-15 from the attempting team's 35-yard line once per game in place of the onside kick in March 2019, but the league rejected it.

However, there is reason to believe a change could be worth trying.

"Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kick attempts in the NFL were recovered in 2019, per NFL Research," NFL.com's Grant Gordon relayed earlier Monday. "As for fourth-and-15s last year, only seven were attempted and only two were converted, but it was still a higher percentage at 28.6."

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes seemed excited by the possible switch, while Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was torn:

Patrick Mahomes II @PatrickMahomes

4th and 15.... 😅😅 https://t.co/ESuILCqkcG

Adam Teicher @adamteicher

Andy Reid on Zoom today said he has mixed thoughts on proposed rule allowing teams to retain the ball after a score by trying to convert on 4th and 15. But he said, "We've got a guy that can do 4th and 15s." https://t.co/rEJhASAk8j

NFL owners will vote on this year's proposal Thursday.

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