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NFL teams submit seven proposals for rule changes; NFL postpones annual meeting

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A few were concerning automatic replay

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Last season, there were a handful of new rules that were put in place. Owners voted to expand the protection of defenseless players by eliminating the blindside block. We saw the pass interference replay review was born (how’d that turn out?), and several different rules that were added to the kickoff. Earlier this week, there were a few new rule change proposals that were submitted by four teams: The Eagles, Dolphins, Ravens, and Chargers. Let’s take a look at each proposal.

Philly’s proposal

  • Modify the blindside block rule to prevent unnecessary fouls
  • Make permanent expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful Try attempt
  • Provide an alternative to the onside kick that would allow a team who is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring (4th and 15 from the kicking team’s 25-yard line)
  • Restore preseason and regular-season overtime to 15 minutes and implement rules to minimize the impact of the OT coin toss

As long as the overtime rules remain the same, it’s pretty simple; you have to get a stop on defense. If we want to go down the “fair” route, then change the rules or make it similar to college football where each team is guaranteed to touch the ball, or else, the team that wins the toss will always have the advantage.

I like the idea of implementing a fourth-down conversion in place of onside kicks. The onside kick conversion rate was at 21% in 2017, and that has declined to under 10% in the last two seasons. You’re barely giving the team trailing a chance with the way the new rules are. In a situation that’s 4th & 15, you at least raise the odds of converting to around 20%—finding when the right time to “test” this rule is a challenge.

Miami’s proposals

  • Provide the option to the defense for the game clock to start on the referee’s signal if the defense declines an offensive penalty that occurs late in either half.

Good luck getting any defensive rule changes added. The NFL has made it clear which side of the ball they favor. Fans want points. Speaking of penalties late in the half, I don’t get the 10-second runoff penalty.

Ravens and Chargers proposals

  • Add a “booth umpire” as an eighth game official to the officiating crew
  • Add a Senior Technology Advisor to the referee to assist the officiating crew

The fact that we need extra eyes to make sure the refs and replay get it right says a lot. It’s 2020, and we are still using a “chain gang” and refs to spot the ball. We have a pylon cam. The technology is there to get the simplest aspects of football right. When the official goes to review a catch, and nobody knows how the official is going to respond even after dozens of replays, it’s time to change the process.

These proposals were scheduled to be voted on at the owners’ meetings later this month. With the COVID-19 situation going on, the spring meeting that was scheduled for March 29-April 1 is cancelled and will now be discussed and voted on at the May meeting, with NFL coaches and GMs expected to attend. Here is the NFL’s official statement:

​NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the clubs today that after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, the NFL’s annual meeting scheduled for March 29-April 1 has been canceled.

There will be full consideration and votes on any open football issues, including playing rules, bylaws, and resolutions, as well as other business matters that were on the agenda for the Annual Meeting, at the Spring meeting scheduled for May 19-20. Most of the first day will be dedicated to football-related issues. Head coaches and general managers will participate in the meeting.

This decision was made consistent with the league’s primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations. ​

We will continue to closely monitor developments, consult with leading experts, and be prepared to make any changes necessary as circumstances warrant.