4th and 15 replacing onside kicks and other rule changes the NFL needs
Every offseason the NFL makes changes to the rulebook that make headlines.
This year has been no different with the 4th-and-15 alternative for an onside kick that has been gaining traction to get the votes to pass. This got us thinking: what other rule changes should the NFL implement?
Seemingly a few times a season, NFL Twitter collectively expresses their confusion over some rulings made, so why not fix them?
Here are five rule changes the NFL should make to enhance the quality of the product.
Replace onside kicks with a 4th and 15 attempt
First of all, the rule that inspired this article.
The Philadelphia Eagles proposed a rule that would allow the kicking team to opt into a 4th and 15 conversion attempt from its own 25-yard line to keep the ball rather than an onside kick attempt. Teams would get the chance to try it out twice a game and the traditional onside kick would remain an option.
Pro Football Talk learned this week that support has been growing around the league in favor of the rule change and it is easy to see why.
Illegal contact and holding no longer automatic first down
One of the most backbreaking penalties for a defense is when illegal contact or holding gives the offense an automatic first down. So why even have it?
If the penalty occurs and the yardage gained gives them a first down then yes the offense converted but so often a third-and-20 gets converted because the defense commits a five-yard penalty? Is that really fair? We don't think so and when offenses convert due to small penalties like these, it comes off as anti-climactic and cheap more than exciting.
Clock stops on first downs in final two minutes
College football stops the clock each time a first down has been earned until the ball has been set by the offense, so why doesn't the NFL inside of two minutes? It would make comebacks more likely to occur and increase the drama down the stretch of games. Currently, defenses can game to allow deep passes in the middle of the field because the clock burned would not be worth it for the offense.
Additionally, quite often the offense is ready to run the next play during the two-minute drill before the ball gets set. The referees are trying their best to move quickly but a team shouldn't lose a game because the referee couldn't spot the ball in time.
Get rid of the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty
The unsportsmanlike conduct is the dumbest penalty in all of professional sports.
If a player doesn't want to get taunted, they should outplay them on the field, not hope for a flag from a third party. Unless someone threatens someone or uses an offensive slur, taunting and trash talk should be fair game. It also adds to the drama of the game seeing two players jawing at each other and it should be encouraged, rather than punished.
Fans love seeing their favorite players throw shade at the opposing team after big plays so why not encourage more raw emotion, that comes off as authentic and passionate, than regulate which comes off as corporate and lame.
Coaches keep won challenges
If a coach challenges a play and proves the referees missed the call, why do they still lose the challenge?
Currently each team gets two challenges, and gets awarded a third if they win the first two. But this method only lets them correct three calls which normally is enough but sometimes coaches don't have challenges left and can't reverse bad calls against their teams late in games.
Why not change it to each coach gets two failed challenges? It'd be the same as currently but if a coach continually proves the referees wrong then his team doesn't get as punished by the unfair refereeing.