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Sean Payton: We have to keep onside kick opportunity alive

Saints coach Sean Payton talks about how closely New Orleans scouted Patrick Mahomes in 2017, whether they would've picked him over Marshon Lattimore and how the franchise is preparing for a big offseason.

Saints head coach Sean Payton would rather be preparing for Super Bowl LIV than reminiscing about Super Bowl XLIV this week, but losing to the Vikings in the playoffs means that he’s in Miami doing interviews.

One of those interviews came on PFT Live and it was only natural to bring up that Super Bowl win because it also came in Miami. The reminiscing focused on the Saints’ decision to try an onside kick at the start of the second half, which paid off when they recovered the ball and scored to take their first lead over the Colts.

Payton said he doesn’t think he’d try the same play under the current kickoff rules, which bar players other than the kicker from getting a running start and has led to fewer successful onside kicks. The NFL toyed with a wrinkle in the Pro Bowl that would given an offense a chance to convert a fourth-and-15 play to keep the ball and former head of officiating Mike Pereira suggested that a preseason trial could be a next step, but Payton said he’s “not a fan” of that approach.

Payton is on the NFL’s Competition Committee and he said he thinks there will be discussions about how to keep the onside kick as part of the game.
“I understand the safety relative to the onside kick,” Payton said. “I think we can improve how we do it. Inside of three minutes, let’s allow maybe a little more flexibility. I think the most exciting finish to an NFL game is score, onside kick, score. . . . We have to keep that opportunity alive. We can’t have a team taking a knee with more time left than we do right now. I think that we will. It was discussed last year, it was brought up, but I think we’re gonna pay a little bit more attention to the onside kick itself.”

If there was a tweak to the rules to allow for late game onside kicks, it wouldn’t do much to improve the chances of another surprise kick like the Saints pulled off 10 years ago but it would add a bit more intrigue to what’s become a less exciting play.