The NFL released the list of rules changes proposed by teams on Monday and it includes one from the Eagles that calls for a fourth-and-20 play to be added to the game as an alternative to a traditional onside kick.
Per the proposal, teams would have a 4th-and-20 from their own 20-yard-line and would need to convert it to keep the ball. A defensive stop would give the other team the ball at the point the play ends and teams would not be able to opt for a kickoff if they commit a penalty on their initial try.
The proposal also says a team would be limited to two tries in a game and they can only come while a team is trailing. Traditional onside kicks would remain in the game as well.
Every year we get proposals to change rules for NFL games. The idea is always to make the game
safer for the players who are the lifeblood of the league more exciting for us. And I'm all for it. Fuck the sanctity of the game and traditions. Give me chaos and backdoor covers galore.
The XFL already does a 4th-and-15 play as an option instead of an onside kick. And it has already fueled an insane comeback by the AJ McCarron led St Louis Battlehawks. Back in Week 1 of the XFL season, the Battlehawks scored with 1:25 left to close the lead to 15-12. They then attempted a 4th-and-15 from their own 25 instead of opting for an onside kick.
Talk about electric! They ended up scoring again and won the game 18-15.
So much better than the measly three onside kick conversions the NFL had last season. The second you line up for an onside kick you know it's over. The kicker will try and do some stupid running drag kick that will inevitably not make it the 10 yards or go flying out of bounds. And even if they do manage to put the ball in play 95% of the time a guy just falls on it.
Now 4th-and-20 is significantly harder than 4th-and-15 but it would still be exciting as hell. You'll get one of two things:
1. A guy like Jalen Hurts taking a shotgun snap, avoid a rusher, moving to his right and then throwing a dime to DeVonta Smith for 22 yards to keep their hopes alive. They'll probably have no timeouts so they'll immediately go into hurry up offense and you have an instant classic game on your hands.
2. A guy like Baker Mayfield will take the shotgun snap, narrowly avoid a rusher, scramble to his right, take a monster hit as he throws up a prayer towards Mike Evans that drifts six feet out of play giving his guy zero shot at making the catch. Evans will inevitably be pissed, talk shit in his postgame presser, and you have an instant classic soundbite on your hands.
Either way the fans win.
But why stop there. The NFL should add the scramble drill for possession to start the game too. Let's get nuts. You're telling me none of those lunatics on the kickoff team would want to do this?
I love this proposal from Philly. I would have loved it even more if they had proposed a 4th-and-26 play in honor of Freddie Mitchell instead.