Football fans watching the AAF have been treated to a new feature. Onside kicks have largely gone away, replaced by a fourth-and-12 attempt from the trailing team’s own 28-yard line.
This year at the NFL Annual Meeting, the 32 owners voted on a proposed rule change that would have adopted a similar play as an option for teams trailing late in games. The change would have instituted a fourth-and-15 play at the 35-yard line instead, making the challenge a bit more difficult but making the line to gain an extra 10 yards of field position down the field.
However, despite the rule earning some early traction among the league’s Competition Committee (seven of eight members reportedly voted in favor of it), the rule change is dead for 2019. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that this change made it to a vote, but did not earn enough support to pass.
24 of the NFL’s 32 owners (a three-fourths vote) are needed to pass any rule changes.
For now, the NFL will continue to ensure that teams trailing late in games have a near-zero chance of getting the football back on offense quickly. In the 2018 regular season, just four of 52 onside attempts were successful, despite there being 12 successes on 57 attempts the previous year. With the 2018 rules for kickoffs being made permanent — a rule change that did pass at this week’s meeting, along with a handful of other minor tweaks — expect no surprises on onside kicks again in 2019.
However, there are other rules change proposals that still have a chance of passing. The Kansas City Chiefs proposed giving both teams an opportunity to possess the football on offense in overtime, and according to Pelissero, that rule will not go to a vote at this meeting. Instead, the owners and Competition Committee will apparently think it over for two more months and will make a final determination at the league’s spring meeting in May. In the meantime, the Chiefs will likely adjust the rule proposal to simplify it, according to Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, for his part, made his preference known when speaking to the media at the meeting:
Matt LaFleur said he's in favor of both teams possessing the ball in overtime. #Packers— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) March 26, 2019
On Tuesday afternoon, the owners are also scheduled to discuss the rules proposals regarding instant replay reviews, notably the proposals regarding penalties. Stay tuned for updates regarding the debate about these potential changes.