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The NFL may borrow from the XFL in the near future.
The NFL Competition Committee held its first day of meetings on Monday, and one of the proposed rule changes by a team was switching the onside kick to a 4th-and-15 alternative that would have the team’s offense run a single play in an effort to pick up 15 yards to keep the ball instead of the traditional onside kick.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported another proposal was a rule that would allow teams to dress a third quarterback for emergency use.
There was also a proposal to make roughing the passer a reviewable penalty, although Judy Battista of NFL.com noted the “early indication is little appetite in the room for making it reviewable.”
The third quarterback rule generated discussion after the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
San Francisco was already without Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo because of injuries and then lost Brock Purdy (UCL) and Josh Johnson (concussion) to setbacks during the game. With no other active quarterback on the roster, the 49ers had little choice but to turn back toward Purdy after Johnson exited.
However, he could barely throw the ball downfield, and the Eagles cruised to a 31-7 victory.
Any team can have three active quarterbacks on game day, but some teams choose to have only two active so they have another player active at a different position. A new rule could make it so having a third QB active does not count against the game-day roster limit.
As for the 4th-and-15 play, the XFL has such a rule in place and even saw the St. Louis Battlehawks successfully convert one as an alternative to an onside kick during a comeback win over the San Antonio Brahmas.
While converting 4th-and-15 plays will be anything but easy for offenses, they would likely have a higher success rate than onside kicks. Kicking teams recovered just three of 56 onside attempts (5.3 percent) during the 2022 regular season.
Giving teams in comeback mode a better opportunity to maintain possession would increase excitement at the end of games and could keep viewers tuned in longer than they otherwise would have been given the lack of success when it comes to onside kicks.
It remains to be seen if the proposal will eventually become a rule, but the league could study the XFL as something of a real-world case study before making a decision.