The NFL is not always the fastest-moving organization, but that does not preclude it from making some changes. Last offseason saw the introduction of the pass interference review, and while that seemed like a poor decision from the start, it did represent a swift change. The game of football is never perfect, and there are always chances for improvement.
One idea that seemed to be gaining a lot of traction was providing an alternative to onside kicks. The success rate has never been high for onside attempts, and some teams have been exploring options to make potential comebacks more possible. The latest was an option for a fourth-and-15 attempt from a team’s own 25-yard line, but it was tabled for this offseason.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Will the NFL make changes to the onside kick situation?
My answer: It seems like a matter of time before the whole kickoff situation is radically adjusted due to safety reasons, so that would be a natural time to come up with an alternative to onside kicks as well. However, the latter could very well be addressed before any wholesale changes are put into effect.
I think the fourth down proposal is probably the best way to start. One obvious challenge is figuring out how to deal with defensive penalties on this untimed down. Given the flag-happy nature of refs, it does seem like many attempts could end up with automatic first downs, which would open a whole different can of worms.
A lot of the brainstorming has revolved around historical percentages of fourth-and-long attempts, but the sample sizes are always pretty small, and it is impossible to know how odds might change in a designated environment. I think this year’s proposal is close, though, and hopefully the creative minds around the league can keep iterating until a good solution can be reached.