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Eagles withdraw two of their four rule proposals as another one gains steam

4th and 15, you say?

Philadelphia Eagles v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles originally submitted four playing rule changes that were supposed to be voted on at the NFL’s owner meetings back in March before the coronavirus pandemic caused cancellations.

The Eagles have since withdrawn two of their proposals ...

By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7, to modify the blindside block rule to prevent unnecessary fouls.

By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 16, Section 1, to restore preseason and regular season overtime to fifteen minutes and to implement rules to minimize the impact of the overtime coin toss.

... leaving the following two remaining to be voted on during next week’s virtual meetings (May 28, to be precise):

By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 15, Section 2, to make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful Try attempt.

By Philadelphia; to amend Rule 6, Section 1, Article 1, to provide an alternative to the onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring.

Proposals must be approved by 75% of the owners to be adopted. Multiple reports indicate the Eagles’ onside kick alternative is gaining traction.

Thanks to the Eagles’ overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans in 2018, I’ll never not be able to think of Corey Graham when I see or hear “4th and 15.”

Seriously, though, I do think this idea could be fun and worth trying. If the NFL can temporarily institute reviewable pass interference, which was clearly stupid and a lame effort aimed to placate big cry baby Sean Payton, why not give an onside kick alternative a try?

Here’s some more specific language on the Eagles’ proposal:

(C) As an alternative to the Free Kick a team may elect to retain possession, subject to the following rules:

(1) A team may elect to retain possession no more than two times during the game.

(2) The kicking team must notify the Referee of its intention to forego a kickoff or safety kick and retain possession. The Referee will then notify the opponent of the scoring team’s election.

(3) The ball will be spotted on the kicking team’s 25-yard line, and the kicking team will possess the ball with the down and distance being fourth and 15 (Line to gain is the kicking team’s 40-yard line).

(4) The Play Clock will be set to 25 seconds and winds on the ready for play signal. The Game Clock starts on the snap, and normal NFL timing rules apply.

(5) Standard rules for a scrimmage down apply.

(6) If the offense reaches the line to gain, the result of the play is a first down and all customary rules are in effect. If the defense stops the offense, the defense assumes possession at the dead-ball spot.

(7) If the offense is penalized on its one scrimmage down (fourth and 15), the offense cannot elect to kick off after the penalty is enforced. Example: the kicking team may not elect to kick after incurring a holding penalty on its one scrimmage down.

(8) Scrimmage kicks are prohibited.

(9) Nothing in this exception prohibits a team from attempting a legal onside kickoff under Rule 6.

Penalty: For illegal kick on a free kick down: Loss of five yards.

Effect: Permits a team to maintain possession of the ball after a score by substituting one offensive play (4th and 15 from the kicking team’s 25-yard line) for an onside kickoff attempt.

Reason: Provides excitement and competition late in the game.

What do you think? Should the NFL give this a try?


Should the NFL adopt the Eagles’ proposal for the 4th-and-15 onside kick alternative?

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