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NFL considering ‘Chip Kelly rule’ to prevent penalties used for game-clock manipulation

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The 49ers head coach made a smart move against the Saints this past season, but it might not be allowed in the future.

The 2016 season was an ugly one, but there was at least one amusing highlight. In a Week 9 loss to the New Orleans Saints, head coach Chip Kelly unveiled a unique strategy that prevented the Saints from scoring a touchdown to close out the half.

With four seconds left, the Saints ran a pass play from the 49ers 13, looking to score a touchdown to take a 35-20 lead. At the snap, at least three 49ers defenders grabbed their respective pass catcher to prevent them from getting open. Three separate holding penalties were issued. The five-yard defensive holding penalty moved the Saints to the 49ers 8, but no time left on the clock, they elected to kick a field goal on the untimed down.

Chip Kelly calls for 49ers players to hold all the Saints

The NFL is looking to crack down on that kind of play. The league is holding owners’ meetings next week, and the annual March meetings are where the owners vote on competition committee rules suggestions. One of the proposed rule changes would make it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls on the same down in a manner designed to manipulate the game clock. According to Pro Football Talk, it would be both a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the clock would be reset to where it was before the snap.

I’m not surprised the NFL would crack down on something like this. It really made no difference in the 49ers 41-23 loss, but obviously the NFL would prefer to avoid teams manipulating the clock in such a way. We saw the Baltimore Ravens do it in a certain Super Bowl we will not discuss, and they did it again later in the 2016 season. Maybe since it involves punters the competition committee hasn’t been as concerned? I really don’t know.