Onside Kicks a Thing of the Past?


This past Monday, the NFL shared the proposed rule changes that teams submitted to them ahead of the 2023 season. The Philadelphia Eagles turned in the rule change which allows the kicking team to have the opportunity to convert a 4th and 20 rather than trying an onside kick following a score.

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This rule definitely has a lot of pros, one of them being it limits injuries. Given the way that onside kicks work, the opportunity for injury presents itself alarmingly. Running at high speeds into essentially defenseless players is not a recipe for a safe play or a safe league.

This change also presents a higher rate of the kicking team converting this play and getting the ball back. The fans would definitely love this change, as it brings more excitement to late games where a team would need an onside kick (very improbable) to be able to score again before time expires.

The most obvious con would be that the receiving team is given a disadvantage in this situation, given the conversion rate of 4th and 20 is higher than the conversion rate and successfully recovering an onside kick. Overall however, I do see this change as a positive one.

XFL Implementing This Rule

With the XFL implementing this rule, it has made many fans call for the NFL to act and do the same. The XFL has seen positive feedback from teams and fans thus far, with the St. Louis Battlehawks team and fanbase being the obvious one.

On February 19th, the Battlehawks were down 15-3 with 2:52 left in the 4th quarter. They scored a touchdown and converted a 3-pt conversion to make it 15-12. With this 4th and 20 rule being in play, the Battlehawks took advantage of it.

They converted the 4th and 20, and ultimately found the end zone again and stole the win. For XFL fans as a whole, this was a very electric finish to a game that would’ve been over most likely without this new rule.

With the XFL using this rule, it allowed for the NFL to see it in force. This may be the evidence and reasoning they needed before making the change, and I hope they do enforce this rule.

A Few Other Proposals I Think Should Be Implemented

There were a total of fifteen new rule change proposals sent to the league. Five of these proposed changes related to the league’s replay review system.

The LA Rams proposal of roughing the passer becoming reviewable through a coach’s challenge should be implemented in my opinion. The roughing the passer call is changing the game, and for the worse.

Fittingly enough, the San Francisco 49ers proposed the idea of an emergency QB on the roster as a third QB. The 3rd QB would then be allowed to play if the team’s two active QBs are injured. This rule change would come a year late for the 49ers, who were plagued by injuries to their QBs all season and throughout the postseason.

The three rule changes I discussed should be implemented this year in my opinion. These changes would only make the league better, especially the 4th and 20 rule change proposal.

While the NFL replay review system is flawed, adding the roughing the passer as a coaches challenge wouldn’t hurt it. And in reference to the emergency QB rule proposal, I don’t see any repercussions to it.


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