NFL trying out onside kick alternatives in Pro Bowl
NFL officiating announced the NFL will experiment with two rule changes during the Pro Bowl, including one that could be an alternative to the onside kick.
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) January 21, 2020
Instead of a team electing to kick an onside kick, they can now choose an option that brings the ball to their own 25-yard line. The offense has one play to try and pick up 15 yards. If they can get 15 yards or more they can keep the ball. If they fail to get the 15 yards it is counted as a turnover on downs, and the defense will take the ball.
The Denver Broncos proposed a rule similar to this during the owners’ meeting but it was turned down. Rules that are tried during the Pro Bowl don’t always become new rules, but it shows the NFL is serious about trying to find a change.
Having successful onside kicks seem to be a thing of the past. Historically onside kicks are successful about 21 percent of the time, but during the 2019 season, only 12.9 percent ended with the kicking team getting the ball back.
The other rule change that is being experimented with has to do with flexed receivers and false starts.
It is not a false start if a flexed, eligible receiver in a two-point stance who flinches or picks up one foot, as long as his other foot remains partially on the ground and he resets for one second prior to the snap. A receiver who fits this exception is not considered to be “in motion” for the purposes of the Illegal Shift rules.
It is not a false start if all 11 offensive players have been set for at least one full second and any flexed, eligible receiver breaks his stance by picking up both feet.
The false start rule is a minor rule change. The one that will be getting all the attention during the Pro Bowl will involve the onside kick.