The NFL owners will meet next week in Orlando, Florida, in the annual meetings. The owners meet several teams throughout the year, but the March meetings are generally the biggest. At the March meetings, compensation picks are dispensed, but more importantly, rules are voted on for the coming season.
The NFL competition committee met this week, and various proposals were put forth for consideration by the owners. These included proposals by the committee, and also proposals by teams. The New England Patriots submitted four rules proposals, Washington submitted three, and the committee submitted six more. With the help of Football Zebras, here's the 13 proposals that will be presented to the league:
1. Move kickoffs to 40 (by Washington)
2. Allow personal fouls to be reviewable (by Washington)
3. No OT in preseason (by Washington)
4. Extend goalposts 5 ft higher (by New England)
5. Move the line of scrimmage for extra-point kicks to the 25. (Run/pass conversions from the 2) (by New England)
6. Add 6 cameras to boundary lines to supplement TV network for replay (by New England)
7. Allow a coach to challenge any official's decision (by New England)
8. Extend roll-up blocks from behind to include such blocks from the side (adding "and from the side" to existing rule)
9. Connect the officiating command center to the field-to-booth communication relay
10. Recovery of a loose ball reviewable; also reorganize Article 4 & 5 to enhance understanding
11. Allow the clock to run after a quarterback sack
12. Pass interference can occur at or beyond the line of scrimmage, eliminating the 1-yard "pick" zone
13. Simplify enforcement points (no specifics, but generally complex situations like a defensive foul on a net-loss, fouls on change of possession)
The competition committee proposals (the final six), are generally viewed as the most likely to pass. That does not mean the team proposals will not pass, but there is less certainty as to how the owners will consider them. Proposals by the competition committee generally have a bit more weight with the owners initially.
The most notable for 49ers purposes is No. 10. As everyone is describing it, that would essentially be the "NaVorro Bowman Rule". For those that don't recall, when Bowman blew out his knee, he was recovering a loose ball. It was clear he recovered it, but the play was not reviewable. The 49ers stopped the Seahawks on 4th and 1 on the next play, but it's the principle of the thing that matters.
There are some interesting rules up for a vote. The Patriots suggestion of raising the goal posts five feet is meant to make up for the few times a football gets up above one of the two sides. I'd be curious to know what the physics of this might be, in terms of keeping the goal posts upright.
I strongly believe personal fouls should be reviewable. In reality, any play that will have a 15+ yard enforcement involved should be reviewable. While turnovers can swing games, a big penalty like that can swing a game as well. The Patriots suggest allowing any play be reviewable. I think eventually that should be allowed, but I can see why the league might be leery about diving in the deep end on that.
However, given that the goal is to get things right, why wouldn't you allow anything to be reviewed? I'm not suggesting there be an increase in the number of available challenges. Rather, teams should be able to challenge anything on the field. Teams might end up using more of their allotment of challenges, but if they have them to use, why not? If you don't increase the number of available challenges (or at least not drastically), is there really any reason not to open the door for more challenge-able plays?