Jason McCourty: Alternate Onside Kick Rules Reward Teams For Being Behind

Liam McKeone
Onside kick
Onside kick / Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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NFL owners will vote on proposed rule changes for the 2020 season on Thursday. One of those changes is an alternative option for onside kicks in which the kicking team can opt to try a 4th-and-15 from their own 25-yard line. If they convert, they get possession. It's a far more interesting option than the often ill-fated onside kick attempt.

New England Patriots cornerback Jason McCourty isn't too big of a fan, though. While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, he said he feels like the rule change rewards teams for falling behind on the scoreboard.

McCourty has a point. The point of onside kicks is that they are difficult to recover. If your team doesn't want to have to rely on an onside kick to win the game, they should have done what was necessary to not be in that position in the first place. Making it easier for a team to come back makes sense from an entertainment perspective, as McCourty recognizes, but from a competitive vantage point it comes across as a cop-out for the worse team.

A 4th-and-15 is not easy to convert by any means. It's definitely easier than an onside kick, though. Onside kicks are almost entirely a matter of luck rather than skill, whereas a long fourth down conversion requires a modicum of luck but mostly skill from the quarterback to put the ball in the right place and the receivers to provide a window. It also (obviously) favors teams with good players who can do that, whereas an onside kick is basically all things equal unless you're Younghoe Koo down in Atlanta, master of the onside kick.

This will surely be a central topic of discussion when a team like the Chiefs comes back from a two-score deficit in the fourth quarter because Patrick Mahomes uses his howitzer of an arm to convert consecutive 4th-and-15s. When that time comes, McCourty can at least say he told us so.

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