The Competition Committee and the teams have submitted 23 rules proposals for the 2015 season — surprisingly, 13 of them involve replay. The owners will vote this week at the annual Owners Meeting, with new rules requiring a ⅔ vote. Which ones realistically have a chance of being passed? Football Zebras writers Mark Schultz and Ben Austro break down the proposals.
Mark: Where to start? Well, actually this will be easy. If the NFL adopts almost any of these instant replay rules regarding reviewing judgement plays or personal fouls we’re looking at games that will last 3:45 to 4:30. Officials will be hesitant to make a call, or they will throw the flag and “let replay sort it out.” Ben: I agree. The Competition Committee looked at the possibility of fouls being subject to review, and Rams coach Jeff Fisher (a Competition Committee member) essentially undercut any proposal from the teams that would have a reviewable foul (other than the current 12-men penalty). The Patriots proposed adding six fixed cameras to the sideline, goal line, and end line last year. It was tabled for future consideration, and now it is re-upped for a vote this year. It will all depend on whether the league has a logistical solution in this past year, and they might just forge ahead with this one if they do. Mark: Also, NCAA officials already review the game clock to make sure a team got off a snap before the end of the half. It works well, and I think it would be good for the NFL to adopt this as a reviewable situation. As for the play clock, there is a very set mechanic the back judge uses to determine delay of game, and I think this mechanic works well. If it is changed, there will be several more replays just to see if a team will be penalized five yards. Ugh! Ben: They tried to make the game clock reviewable in the postseason a few years ago and the Competition Committee didn’t bring it up to a vote to renew it. Interestingly, the Titans are proposing a one-year enactment of the rule. Both the game clock and play clock proposals are not going to pass.
Mark: The extra point rule change proposals are silly and not needed. Ben: Next!
Restrictions on eligible receivers reporting ineligible
Mark: The eligible-reporting-ineligible loophole was exploited by the Patriots last year. It is a hard play to officiate. While the officials did a good job with it, I think the tactic should be illegal. Ben: If I read this right, this would make some swinging gate formations illegal. Since this came from the Competition Committee, I’m leaning towards this one passing. But I feel it adds even more complexity to a situation that rarely happens anyway.
Player safety proposals
Mark: I am for the NFL taking away exceptions to rules. The more exceptions, the more difficult it is to officiate. These player safety rules changes will make for a safer game and take away unnecessary hits and dangerous blocks. Ben: I think that the ones proposed by the Competition Committee will be passed quickly. Miami’s proposal on the peel-back block was something that was going to be pushed for anyway, so this won’t have any issues. I don’t think the rule prohibiting pushing into the line for field goals and extra-points should be extended to punts, as they are different plays. Formations and rushing tactics are so different, that they are not the same type of play as the proposed rule makes them out to be.
Both teams get a possession in overtime
Mark: I am against this, but I am against all modified OT rules other than sudden death all the time. If the defense can’t stop the offense from marching down and scoring a touchdown on the opening overtime possession, or if they give up a big play that goes for a touchdown, too bad. If we must have modified overtime rules, keep it as is. Better yet, revert to sudden death! Ben: I have no idea why football wants to be like baseball with “extra innings.” The Bears proposal would have been a help to the division-rival Packers last season, after surrendering a touchdown in overtime to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship.
Mark: I like the Competition Committee rule change proposals with linebacker numbering and unsportsmanlike fouls carrying over. If the fouls carry over, teams don’t get a “free shot” at the end of a half. Ben: Most of these type of fouls carry over to the second half kickoff. Only a few do not, and this should have them all enforced uniformly. Linebackers’ numbers are being extended due to necessity of the defensive packages and number retirements.
|Mark Schultz||Ben Austro|
|1. Coaches challenge inside 2:00|
|2. All fouls reviewable|
|3. Personal fouls challengeable|
|4. Personal fouls reviewable|
|5. Automatic-first-down fouls reviewable|
|6. Defenseless receiver hits called on certain reversals|
|7. Defenseless receiver hits reviewable|
|8. Increase challenges to 3|
|9. Replay official can view potential scores or turnovers|
|10. Game clock reviewable|
|11. Play clock reviewable|
|12. Adding fixed cameras for replay|
|13. Using stadium video feed for replay|
|14. PAT kicks snap from 15|
|15. 3-point conversion proposal|
|16. Prohibit pushing into the line on a punt formation|
|17. Each team gets possession in OT|
|18. Peel-back blocks illegal by tight ends|
|19. Receiver is defenseless immediately following an interception|
|20. Dead-ball unsportsmanlike/taunting carries to 2nd half kickoff|
|21. Chop block exception for H-back removed|
|22. Linebackers can be numbered 40-49|
|23. Players reporting ineligible must be in tight formation|