If a vote from the NFL’s competition committee is any indication, there may be an alternative coming to the league’s onside kick.
The Denver Broncos submitted a rule-change proposal that offers an onside kick alternative where, a maximum of once per game during the fourth quarter, a team may elect to go for a fourth-and-15 play from its own 35-yard line instead of the traditional onside kick.
The competition committee voted on the proposal, with New York Giants owner John Mara the only no vote, according to NFL Network’s Judy Battista.
Later this week at the NFL’s annual league meetings in Phoenix, the league’s owners will vote on the proposal. It would need to be ratified by 24 of the 32 owners to go into effect next season.
According to The Washington Post, only four onside kicks were successfully recovered by the kicking team during the 2018 season as the NFL made changes to kickoff rules to help curb injuries on what has been football’s most dangerous play.
“The safety rules that were put in place for this past season were designed to prevent the kickoff from being eliminated entirely, and they seem to have worked. League medical officials announced at the NFL scouting combine that the rate of concussions suffered by players on kickoffs was down 35 percent from the 2017 season. As a result, the kickoff no longer is football’s most dangerous play, according to the league. That distinction now belongs to the punt, both in terms of concussion and overall injury rates," the Post's Mark Maske wrote.
In the Broncos’ proposal, a team electing to use the onside kick alternative would notify the officials of their intent to go for a fourth-and-15 play, typically with the ball at its own 35. The offensive “kicking” team would retain possession if they were successful in reaching the line to gain, otherwise the opposing team would take over where the play ended.
A similar rule exists in the first-year Alliance of American Football, which does not have kickoffs. Instead, at the start of each half and whenever a team scores, the opposing team takes possession at its own 25.
If a team that just scored is trailing by 17 or more points or is trailing in the final five minutes in the fourth quarter, they may elect to go for an onside kick conversion attempt, which requires converting a fourth-and-12 play from its own 28.
The first attempt of the onside kick conversion in the AAF occurred during a Week 3 game in Salt Lake City, when Arizona kicked a field goal with 19 seconds to cut the Stallions’ lead to 23-15. The Hotshots only gained seven yards on the play, and Salt Lake ended the game on a kneel down.
The first successful conversion of the onside attempt in the AAF showed the big-play potential it has. After Atlanta scored late to cut its deficit against Birmingham to 28-12, Atlanta quarterback Matt Simms threw deep on the conversion attempt, completing a 48-yard pass to Seantavius Jones. While Simms threw an interception on the next play, it showed how quickly field position could change with the onside kick conversion.
Stumping for Pope
Rick Pitino, the longtime NBA and men’s college basketball coach who’s now coaching in EuroLeague, believes one of his pupils should receive a strong look at the variety of basketball coaching vacancies.
Pope played for Pitino at Kentucky in the 1990s. Pope is head coach at Utah Valley, where he has amassed a 77-55 record in four seasons. The Wolverines continue their postseason in the CBI with a game at South Florida on Monday night.
- Why Kyler Murray is like Steve Young
- Ezekiel Ansah may be a perfect fit for the Denver Broncos
- NFL draft profile on former Utah safety Chase Hansen
And finally …2 comments on this story
Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young shared a message with the BYU women’s basketball team on Saturday after watching the Cougars beat Auburn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The former BYU and NFL quarterback complimented the team for its chemistry, saying, "You guys are tough-minded. ... There is a spirit of abundance you guys have. Nobody's selfish."
And finally II …
The official elimination of the Los Angeles Lakers from the playoffs, combined with the start of the NCAA Tournament, spurred a creative video of the Lakers’ “One Shining Moment” highlighting this season for the L.A. team.