Are Onside Kicks Risky?

By Lloyd Graff

Sunday’s Super Bowl hinged on the recovery of a surprise onside kick by the New Orleans Saints at the beginning of the second half.

Saints coach Sean Payton gambled that his team could recover the ball and change the momentum of the game. It worked. The Saints then outscored Indianapolis 25 to 17 in the second half to upset the Colts.

I laud Payton for the gamble. Most pro coaches are extremely conservative in mapping a game, but Payton was willing to gamble, as he had done late in the first half by shunning a sure field goal to go for a touchdown from the one on fourth down. The Colts stopped the run, but New Orleans still made a field goal just before the first half ended.

According to the blog, NFL Advanced Scouts, the Payton gamble was not roulette. The blog reports that although the success rate of NFL onside kicks is 26 percent, the success rate of “surprise onside kicks” is actually around 60 percent. The reason they have a bad name is because they are usually attempted when the other team is expecting them, and plays a “hands team” of ends and backs who practice receiving onside kicks regularly.

I submit that teams should make the onside kick a common practice. If kickers became extremely proficient at kicking them like they are for field goals, they could completely upset the special teams’ return game. Large segments of the field would be vacant, and blocking schemes would be a mess if teams routinely used “surprise” onside kicks.

In business most people live in the world of routine. They play it safe, follow accepted practices and live in the world of the average—perhaps a little below or a little above. We all need more onside kicks. Actually, we need to get more kicks period.

Question: Do you think the onside kick should be used regularly?

New Orleans Saints recover onside kick in Superbowl XLIV

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2 thoughts on “Are Onside Kicks Risky?

  1. green hornet

    Your blog is a treat. Never know what to expect. National Acmes, one day. Mazaks to the U.S. Government the next. Michael Jacjkson, and labor rates at IMTS. Keep surprising us.

  2. Steve Baranyk

    The Saints were coached by Sean Patton – attack, attack, attack and attack some more. They had enough fire in their bellies for three teams. The Colts came in expecting to win so they played not to lose – which they did. The Saints had tasted honest defeat during the regular season – the Colts had not.

    The Saints had nothing to lose (who thought they would be there early in the season?) so they felt free to gamble – on side kick off, attacking defense daring the Colts to hurt them.

    I expect to see the Saints back in the Super Bowl next year – not too certain about the Colts (I live in Indy). The Colts have come to expect to win with Manning. Brees and Sean Patton Payton have exposed their weaknesses for all to see.

    Toyota – single biggest problem – their “closed” management society combined with arrogance gained through years of constant success while the American Big Three went down the chute. Seems like the bad news for Toyota keeps coming and just wait until the lawsuits hit the press. They have never tasted anything like the American media in high dudgeon.

    Gov. Daniels of Indiana along with three other governors from states where Toyota has plants have asked for Congress and the media to go easy on Toyota – don’t bet on it.

    We have not heard the last of this.

    Steve Baranyk


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