NFL considering alternative to onside kicks, adding booth umpire
NFL teams will vote on several rule change proposals next week, including an alternative to onside kicks for teams to maintain possession after a score.
Proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles, teams will vote on whether to replace the onside kick with a fourth-and-15 play from the kicking team's own 25-yard line.
Following rules changes made two years back, which prohibits players on the kicking team getting a running start on kickoffs, the success rate of onside kicks has dropped precipitously. During the past two seasons, only 11 of 108 onside kicks (10.2%) were recovered by the kicking team.
In addition to the onside kick overhaul, there are several other proposals teams have been asked to consider. For any proposal to be adopted, 75% of the league's teams must approve the change.
► The Miami Dolphins have requested the option for a team playing defense to start the game clock on the referee’s signal if the defense declines an offensive penalty that occurs late in either half.
► The Baltimore Ravens and L.A. Chargers have jointly put forth a pair of similar proposals that expand officiating oversight. One would add a booth umpire to the officiating crew, while the other would see a "senior technology advisor" assisting the crew.
The booth umpire would be similar to the popular sky judge implemented by the defunct Alliance of American Football league last year.
► Two other proposals have been submitted by the league's competition committee. The first, regarding player safety, is an expansion of the current defenseless player rules to cover to kickoff and punt returners.
The second rule change seeks to prevent teams from manipulating the game clock by intentionally committing penalties.