Here are the details behind the NFL’s proposed new onside kick rule.
The NFL, much like many of the other professional leagues, are in the process of proposing rule changes that would be implemented for the next season. One of those rules would be replacing the onside kick rule with a 4th-and-15 play from the team’s own 25-yard line.
This was music to the ears of former MVP and Super Bowl Champion Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes and many others around the league have been quick to voice their support for the rule. The 2018 MVP notably completed a long fourth-down pass to help the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Baltimore Ravens last season.
It’s plays like those, among others, as reason why Mahomes is in favor of this rule change.
There are caveats to this rule though. Kansas City and other high-powered offense can’t just play keep away all game long. ESPN’s Field Yates noted that the fourth-down play would only be permitted when a team is trailing and can only be used twice per game.
So, in the slight chance, Mahomes and the Chiefs are trailing late in the game, this new rule may make it much easier for them to come back. Last season, Kansas City went 6/10 on fourth downs, but obviously going for it with 15-yards to go will prove as more difficult.
With that being said, it’s easy to imagine the majority of the league is in favor of this play. Since the NFL moved the spot of the kickoff from the 30 to the 35-yard line, the percentage of onside kicks converted dropped close to zero.
In 2019, NFL teams converted on 3/30 (10 percent) of onside kick opportunities. According to Football Outsiders there is a 12.5 percent chance of converting a 4th-and-15 play. So, the numbers show teams only have a slightly better chance of converting with the potential new rule.
Even with that slight increase, the expectation is that teams will lean towards 4th and 15 over an onside kick. It’s much easier to practice a scheme for 4th and 15, then to perfect an onside kick. In addition, one is more sheer luck, and the other still requires some skill.
So, with all that being said, the expectation is the onside kick will be out in the NFL moving forward. The new rule will have plenty of teams, including Mahomes and the Chiefs excited of the opportunity. If they’re ever trailing, that is.
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