2020 NFL Rule Changes

tims4wins

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The NFL is going to try out a new onside kick replacement at the Pro Bowl - one play from your own 25 yard line, having to reach the 40 - basically the equivalent of a 4th and 15. I'm not sure what the historical conversion rate is on 3rd / 4th and 15 but it seems like a good potential solution (and one that's been discussed here before).

 

uncannymanny

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Hate this. It should be exceedingly difficult to retain possession after you've scored.
 

DeadlySplitter

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as it currently stands an onside kick is mostly random. the best teams might have a nice type of kick or something, but it doesn't affect much.

a high-powered offense like KC will have a decided edge on onside kicks in this scenario. thats' why I don't like it
 

BaseballJones

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Hate this. It should be exceedingly difficult to retain possession after you've scored.
The solution is simple. If you declare an onside kick, you can have your guys line up 5 yards back and get a running start, like you used to. If you do NOT kick an onside kick after doing that, it's a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty added and the receiving team either gets the ball wherever they return it plus those 15 yards, or they push the kicking team back 15 yards for a re-kick (receiving team's choice). It's still really hard to recover such an onside kick but it's at least somewhat possible.
 

uncannymanny

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The solution is simple. If you declare an onside kick, you can have your guys line up 5 yards back and get a running start, like you used to. If you do NOT kick an onside kick after doing that, it's a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty added and the receiving team either gets the ball wherever they return it plus those 15 yards, or they push the kicking team back 15 yards for a re-kick (receiving team's choice). It's still really hard to recover such an onside kick but it's at least somewhat possible.
I prefer the running start as well, but what problem is the rest of this solving?
 

BaseballJones

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I prefer the running start as well, but what problem is the rest of this solving?
I don't understand. The old onside kick situation was just fine. Very difficult to recover it, but not virtually impossible like it is now with no running start. But I get that the running start may be more dangerous for kickoffs as a whole, so you keep it as is now, UNLESS you're going to declare that it's an onside kick. You could surprise onside kick with the current setup (no running start); it's just really hard to recover it is all.

But if you're going to line up with a running start (declaring it's an onside kick), then you HAVE to do it. You can't line up like that and fake it.

My solution is solving the issue with onside kicks being virtually impossible to recover by today's rules, but not making it too easy (like the one play from the 25 yd line seems to be).
 

glennhoffmania

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The NFL continually finds the dumbest solutions to any problem. They ruined the surprise 2 point conversion, made onsides kicks almost impossible, the replay system is horrible, and the OT rules are stupid. This latest dumb idea is not at all surprising.
 

Average Game James

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I don't understand. The old onside kick situation was just fine. Very difficult to recover it, but not virtually impossible like it is now with no running start. But I get that the running start may be more dangerous for kickoffs as a whole, so you keep it as is now, UNLESS you're going to declare that it's an onside kick. You could surprise onside kick with the current setup (no running start); it's just really hard to recover it is all.

But if you're going to line up with a running start (declaring it's an onside kick), then you HAVE to do it. You can't line up like that and fake it.

My solution is solving the issue with onside kicks being virtually impossible to recover by today's rules, but not making it too easy (like the one play from the 25 yd line seems to be).
The challenge with this idea is... what determines what is/is not an onside kick attempt? If by rule you can only kick it a certain distance, it limits the options available to the kicking team, affects how the receiving team lines up, etc. to the point it likely makes recovering a kick harder than it was under the prior rules. Maybe that end up in a sweet spot between what it was under prior rules and what we have today, but hard to know.
 

glennhoffmania

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Isn't the historical recovery rate (pre-2019) like 7-10%? I would imagine that 4th and 15 falls in a very similar range.
Probably. I guess the question is if you had the choice between 4th and 15 or an onside kick under the current rules which would you pick? I'd pick 4th and 15 every time.
 

tims4wins

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Probably. I guess the question is if you had the choice between 4th and 15 or an onside kick under the current rules which would you pick? I'd pick 4th and 15 every time.
But we shouldn't be comparing the current rules. That's why they are even bringing this up. We should be comparing it to the old rules. And I am guessing it is a similar %, although you seemingly have "more control" by going for 4th and 15. It's also probably less of an injury risk.
 

glennhoffmania

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But we shouldn't be comparing the current rules. That's why they are even bringing this up. We should be comparing it to the old rules. And I am guessing it is a similar %, although you seemingly have "more control" by going for 4th and 15. It's also probably less of an injury risk.
Fair point. But are the old rules on the table again? If not I was wondering which of the two realistic options would be easier. If the goal is to make a recovery very difficult then switching to a 4th and 15 doesn't make sense. That's all I was saying. Personally I'd go back to the old rules.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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This was the rule in the American Association of Affiliated American Football of America earlier this season. They didn't stick around long enough for there to be very big sample sizes or even for their to be websites that gather stats in an easy way. But it would be interesting to know the conversion rate.

One thing I don't like about the rule are all the ticky tack fouls that can give a team an automatic first down even when they had no hope. You don't want to encourage teams to commit fouls but other than line of scrimmage penalties virtually everything that the defense does is an automatic first down. Hands to the face, illegal contact, holding. I get that in many of these cases you could arguably say that the foul prevented the team from having a potential chance to get its 15 yards. Like holding that keeps a receiver from running way past you. Still, I might like the rule better if they suspended just for this one play the automatic first down on many defensive fouls, other than pass interference and personal fouls.

I think that giving the team a free play, and either 5 or 10 yards if they do not convert on the free play and another chance, is plenty.

I might even suspend it on roughing the QB. In virtually every case roughing the QB will be enough for the first down anyway, but in the situation in which the offense commits a penalty either at the line of scrimmage or on a play where they succesfully got the first down, so that now they are facing a 4th and longer than 15, I would not like the QB protection rule to mandate a first down automatically.
 

tims4wins

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Fair point. But are the old rules on the table again? If not I was wondering which of the two realistic options would be easier. If the goal is to make a recovery very difficult then switching to a 4th and 15 doesn't make sense. That's all I was saying. Personally I'd go back to the old rules.
The goal is likely to increase the chance of recovery vs. the 2019 season, when it was virtually impossible. And given the new rules about lining up it would be hard to go back to the old way.
 

tims4wins

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This was the rule in the American Association of Affiliated American Football of America earlier this season. They didn't stick around long enough for there to be very big sample sizes or even for their to be websites that gather stats in an easy way. But it would be interesting to know the conversion rate.

One thing I don't like about the rule are all the ticky tack fouls that can give a team an automatic first down even when they had no hope. You don't want to encourage teams to commit fouls but other than line of scrimmage penalties virtually everything that the defense does is an automatic first down. Hands to the face, illegal contact, holding. I get that in many of these cases you could arguably say that the foul prevented the team from having a potential chance to get its 15 yards. I might like the rule better if they suspended just for this one play the automatic first down on many defensive fouls, other than pass interference and personal fouls.

I think that giving the team a free play, and either 5 or 10 yards if they do not convert on the free play and another chance, is plenty.

I might even suspend it on roughing the QB. In virtually every case roughing the QB will be enough for the first down anyway, but in the situation in which the offense commits a penalty either at the line of scrimmage or on a play where they succesfully got the first down, so that now they are facing a 4th and longer than 15, I would not like the QB protection rule to mandate a first down automatically.
I like that idea about the automatic first down penalties
 

McBride11

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Plus this is going to skew towards certain teams moreso than an onside kick. Onside kicks, even the old version, were mostly chance, or some very cleverly designed kick.
4th and 15? KC with Hill and Kelce are going to have significant advantages over teams that are run oriented or something. Or a bad team going for an upset has less of a chance to pull it off bc Jameis Winston is their QB and won't complete a 4th and 15.
 

cshea

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Fair point. But are the old rules on the table again? If not I was wondering which of the two realistic options would be easier. If the goal is to make a recovery very difficult then switching to a 4th and 15 doesn't make sense. That's all I was saying. Personally I'd go back to the old rules.
They are looking to make it a competitive play. Similar to when they moved back the extra points.
 

Harry Hooper

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I thought kickoff-related injuries had more to do with the long runnning starts by the coverage team. Tweaking the current rules to add 5 more yards running start space might be enough.
 

Koufax

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How about having to gain 10 yards on a run or 20 yards on a pass. That seems hard enough.
 

IdiotKicker

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Make a team declare an onside kick in advance, shrink the neutral zone to 5 yards and make the kick recoverable after 5 yards. Less velocity and wide angle should allow for more recoveries with more safety. If you want to do a surprise onside, you can do so, but still with the 10-yard neutral zone that makes it impractical.
 

uncannymanny

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Plus this is going to skew towards certain teams moreso than an onside kick. Onside kicks, even the old version, were mostly chance, or some very cleverly designed kick.
4th and 15? KC with Hill and Kelce are going to have significant advantages over teams that are run oriented or something. Or a bad team going for an upset has less of a chance to pull it off bc Jameis Winston is their QB and won't complete a 4th and 15.
Exactly this.
 

jercra

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If we're being creative, why not stay down by the endzone where scoring just happened and make it like a 2 pt conversion but from further back. Maybe you have to score from 10 yards out in 1 play. If you do, you get the ball at the opposing team's 35. If you fail, the opposing team gets the ball at your 35. Seems like it would take away the concern with the automatic first down penalties because it wouldn't make the conversion good, it would just put the ball at the 1 for PI or the 5 for holding with another shot at it.
 

bsj

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Old data but from 2005-2010...4th and x conversion rates and number of attempts

1​
73.1%​
424​
2​
71.4%​
84​
3​
69.0%​
71​
4​
61.0%​
77​
5​
62.5%​
72​
6​
45.5%​
66​
7​
35.4%​
48​
8​
29.5%​
44​
9​
36.1%​
36​
10​
37.4%​
91​
11​
33.3%​
24​
12​
33.3%​
21​
13​
21.1%​
19​
14​
16.7%​
12​
15​
12.5%​
24​
16​
20.0%​
10​
17​
0.0%​
13​
18​
33.3%​
6​
19​
40.0%​
5​
20​
13.3%​
15​
21+​
6.3%​
32​
 

Ale Xander

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Plus this is going to skew towards certain teams moreso than an onside kick. Onside kicks, even the old version, were mostly chance, or some very cleverly designed kick.
4th and 15? KC with Hill and Kelce are going to have significant advantages over teams that are run oriented or something. Or a bad team going for an upset has less of a chance to pull it off bc Jameis Winston is their QB and won't complete a 4th and 15.
Or Brees/Thomas
I think the main skew is going to be good offense/bad defense teams, and in the 2-3 minute mark where it's 50-50 kick off or do onsides.
 
The challenge with this idea is... what determines what is/is not an onside kick attempt?
You could easily define an onside kick as any kickoff which bounces or is touched within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage for the kick. That would eliminate pooch kicks behind the first line of defenders, of course...while potentially allowing certain squib kicks to qualify as "onside kicks" and give the kicking team a running start.

Whether or not you'd force the onside kicking team to declare its preference before the kick is an open question, of course.
 

BaseballJones

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You could easily define an onside kick as any kickoff which bounces or is touched within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage for the kick. That would eliminate pooch kicks behind the first line of defenders, of course...while potentially allowing certain squib kicks to qualify as "onside kicks" and give the kicking team a running start.

Whether or not you'd force the onside kicking team to declare its preference before the kick is an open question, of course.
You'd "declare" by having your guys line up 5 yards back to get a running start. Because the NFL would NOT want guys lining up that far back, getting a running start, and then having a normal kickoff. That's exactly what they moved away from with the new rule.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Those numbers are surprising to me. Higher than I would think. I wonder if because going for it was so rare before 2010 that these numbers contain a number of fake punts (which I bet have a higher conversion rate).
 
Last edited:

Ale Xander

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Old data but from 2005-2010...4th and x conversion rates and number of attempts

1​
73.1%​
424​
2​
71.4%​
84​
3​
69.0%​
71​
4​
61.0%​
77​
5​
62.5%​
72​
6​
45.5%​
66​
7​
35.4%​
48​
8​
29.5%​
44​
9​
36.1%​
36​
10​
37.4%​
91​
11​
33.3%​
24​
12​
33.3%​
21​
13​
21.1%​
19​
14​
16.7%​
12​
15​
12.5%​
24​
16​
20.0%​
10​
17​
0.0%​
13​
18​
33.3%​
6​
19​
40.0%​
5​
20​
13.3%​
15​
21+​
6.3%​
32​
Is there data based on surface/roof/weather factors?
 

jercra

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Those numbers are surprising to me. Higher thank I would think. I wonder if because going for it was so rare before 2010 that these numbers contain a number of fake punts (which I bet have a higher conversion rate).
I'd think those numbers are likely skewed toward success at the high yardages too. Going for it on 4th and 15 generally only happens in total desperation situations. It's entirely likely the defense isn't even be trying to stop a 1st down.
 

E5 Yaz

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My immediate reaction is to really dislike this proposal. Seems to me that all it does is -- at least in late-game situations -- penalize the team that has worked all day to get a two-score lead.

With an onside kick (traditional or from the past two years), the team that's ahead need only to secure a ball that's traveled 10 yards. If they can't do that, that's on them.

With this rule idea, you're telling the team in front that you have to make another defensive stop -- on a play where the offense can scheme any which way it wants ... which opens up all sorts or worm cans regarding flukes, penalties, etc ... and for what? To give a team that to that point hasn't played well enough to be in position to win and extra chance?

Seems as though the NFL is just saying to teams that "You were good enough to be leading for 59 (or so) minutes, but that no longer means anything."
 

glennhoffmania

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Plus this is going to skew towards certain teams moreso than an onside kick. Onside kicks, even the old version, were mostly chance, or some very cleverly designed kick.
4th and 15? KC with Hill and Kelce are going to have significant advantages over teams that are run oriented or something. Or a bad team going for an upset has less of a chance to pull it off bc Jameis Winston is their QB and won't complete a 4th and 15.
I don't think any rule changes should take into account talent level of the various teams, or style for that matter. Let's say they proposed a rule that when a QB runs he's always treated as a QB even when he leaves the pocket. Should that be disallowed solely because it would help Baltimore more than NO?
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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My immediate reaction is to really dislike this proposal. Seems to me that all it does is -- at least in late-game situations -- penalize the team that has worked all day to get a two-score lead.

With an onside kick (traditional or from the past two years), the team that's ahead need only to secure a ball that's traveled 10 yards. If they can't do that, that's on them.

With this rule idea, you're telling the team in front that you have to make another defensive stop -- on a play where the offense can scheme any which way it wants ... which opens up all sorts or worm cans regarding flukes, penalties, etc ... and for what? To give a team that to that point hasn't played well enough to be in position to win and extra chance?

Seems as though the NFL is just saying to teams that "You were good enough to be leading for 59 (or so) minutes, but that no longer means anything."
Another thing about it is that if you ever do it I'm not sure you can ever take it away.

The point that you're making is also one that could be made about basketball. In fact, it's far worse in basketball. Intentional fouling and moving the ball up three-quarters of a court on a time out in an era of three-point prowess is a horrible thing for the team that has worked its ass off to get a lead for most of the game. But most people view this as a good thing -- you know, "makes it more exciting" and "teams aren't out of it." To its credit, the league did finally pass an away from the ball foul rule that ameliorates it a bit, but the three-quarter thing is one of the most absurd rules in sports in my view.
 

Bosoxen

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I'd think those numbers are likely skewed toward success at the high yardages too. Going for it on 4th and 15 generally only happens in total desperation situations. It's entirely likely the defense isn't even be trying to stop a 1st down.
That's a good point. And if you think about the converse, if the defense is defending a "4th and 15" with no concern for whether or not the team would score (I'm assuming an offensive score in this situation wouldn't count), then you might as well do what you suggested here:
If we're being creative, why not stay down by the endzone where scoring just happened and make it like a 2 pt conversion but from further back. Maybe you have to score from 10 yards out in 1 play. If you do, you get the ball at the opposing team's 35. If you fail, the opposing team gets the ball at your 35. Seems like it would take away the concern with the automatic first down penalties because it wouldn't make the conversion good, it would just put the ball at the 1 for PI or the 5 for holding with another shot at it.
Make them earn that 15 yards in a more compact part of the field. That could also potentially minimize some of the advantage that higher powered offenses would have.

I think I could grow to like that as a potential solution. Provided the surprise onside kick is still a viable option.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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That's a good point. And if you think about the converse, if the defense is defending a "4th and 15" with no concern for whether or not the team would score (I'm assuming an offensive score in this situation wouldn't count), then you might as well do what you suggested here:

Make them earn that 15 yards in a more compact part of the field. That could also potentially minimize some of the advantage that higher powered offenses would have.

I think I could grow to like that as a potential solution. Provided the surprise onside kick is still a viable option.
I don't think that's accurate. I think the point is simply - OK it's 4th and 15! Have at it!
 

Captaincoop

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So you're up ten with 4-5 minutes left, your defense makes the offense slowly march down the field by taking short pickups, and they finally score with 30 seconds left.

Now your exhausted defense, which was just on the field for X plays and basically did its job by forcing them to use the whole clock...has to immediately go out and stop another play?

This takes what was a minor part of the game and changes it so it fundamentally changes the defense's strategy for the last 5 minutes.

Why?
 

tims4wins

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So you're up ten with 4-5 minutes left, your defense makes the offense slowly march down the field by taking short pickups, and they finally score with 30 seconds left.

Now your exhausted defense, which was just on the field for X plays and basically did its job by forcing them to use the whole clock...has to immediately go out and stop another play?

This takes what was a minor part of the game and changes it so it fundamentally changes the defense's strategy for the last 5 minutes.

Why?
Is it really any different than if the other team recovers an onside kick then the exhausted D has to go back out on the field? Does that one minute of real time really matter?
 

Bosoxen

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I don't think that's accurate. I think the point is simply - OK it's 4th and 15! Have at it!
Why would you give them a score in a situation that's designed to determine whether they get the ball back or not? Are we comfortable with conceding possession like that?

Edit: More to the point, you can't score on an onside kick because you can't advance the ball. Why would this scenario result in a score if they convert that "4th and 15" with a breakaway touchdown? If that were the case, then I would have to vociferously disagree with the rule change.
 

DJnVa

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Seems as though the NFL is just saying to teams that "You were good enough to be leading for 59 (or so) minutes, but that no longer means anything."
But if they get the conversion numbers close to the same, then isn't this better than the random luck on an onside kick? That your defense gets to go out there and protect that lead you spent 59 minutes building with one play as opposed to your hands team hoping there is a good bounce?

It seeks to eliminate more the luck variable. I don't know if this is the answer, but some skill involved is better than luck.
 

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Is it really any different than if the other team recovers an onside kick then the exhausted D has to go back out on the field? Does that one minute of real time really matter?
Yes.

The scenarios are entirely different. Currently, you're simply asking your defense to fall on and secure a ball being given to them. Chances of recovery, and avoiding having to play defense again, are significantly better than asking that defense to make "one more stop" after being worn out by another team's offense
 

E5 Yaz

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But if they get the conversion numbers close to the same, then isn't this better than the random luck on an onside kick? That your defense gets to go out there and protect that lead you spent 59 minutes building with one play as opposed to your hands team hoping there is a good bounce?

It seeks to eliminate more the luck variable. I don't know if this is the answer, but some skill involved is better than luck.
There's luck in each case. A 4th and 15 conversion takes some luck as well, and is far more prone to penalty calls, for instance, than an onside kick recovery

I get the idea of keeping the losing team in contention as long as possible. I just think this "solution" devalues the play of the team that built the lead
 

cshea

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I like the idea of a 2-point conversion from the 20-25. Easier for the defense to defend so if feels like the success rate would be more in line with the old conventional onside kick, and a defensive penalty would result in replaying the down as opposed to an automatic first down.
 

bsj

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I like the idea of a 2-point conversion from the 20-25. Easier for the defense to defend so if feels like the success rate would be more in line with the old conventional onside kick, and a defensive penalty would result in replaying the down as opposed to an automatic first down.
This is a fair point
 

E5 Yaz

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But this is better to be than the impossible onside kick
Why?

You want a losing team to have a better chance of winning in the final minutes? Have them play better for the rest of the game
 

E5 Yaz

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Think about 28-3 in regards to this proposed rule.

What makes that comeback incredible is that the Patriots had to play defense, had to get a field goal from Ghost, and had to manage the clock offensively enough to pull it off.

They didn't have to resort to a gimmick after scoring to get the ball back. The way we view that game would be changed, perhaps dramatically, if the Patriots were abetted by some rule designed to keep both teams in the game at all times.