Proposed rule changes for 2012


The NFL’s Competition Committee announced several proposed changes to the game-day rules and the league bylaws on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

The rules changes that are being proposed are:

1. Giving the authority to determine replay reviews to the replay official in the booth, not the referee on the field.

2. Modifying the horse-collar tackle rule to remove the exception for quarterbacks in the pocket, so that a quarterback in the pocket may not be yanked down by the back of his shoulder pads or inside collar of his jersey.

3. Changing overtime so that the postseason rule will be used in the regular season as well, and no regular-season games will be ended on a field goal on the first possession of overtime.

4. Adding a loss of down to the penalty for kicking a loose ball, as is the case in college football.

5. Adopting the college rule for too many men on the field, which is a dead-ball foul if a team lines up on offense for more than three seconds, or if a team on defense lines up with too many men and the snap is imminent. In those cases, the officials will blow the play dead and assess a five-yard penalty. This change wouldn’t affect the rulings on players running off the field who don’t get off in time.

6. Expanding the defenseless player rule to protect defensive players on crackback blocks, making it illegal to hit them in the head or neck area.

7. Automatically reviewing turnovers via instant replay, just as scoring plays are automatically reviewed.

The league also considered the following bylaws:

1. Modifying the roster rules for teams that play on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2. Moving the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.

3. Expanding the roster limit for training camp and the offseason to 90 players, with unsigned draft picks now counting toward that limit, whereas in the past unsigned draft picks did not count toward the 80-player limit.

4. Moving this year’s final roster cutdown day to Friday night instead of Saturday, which is designed to give an extra day of work after cutting down to final rosters for the two teams playing in the first game of the season, which this year is on Wednesday instead of Thursday.

5. Adding an injured reserve exemption so that if a player was on the roster through the first regular season weekend, that player can be placed on injured reserve and designated for return, and then can return to practice six weeks later and play in a game eight weeks later, rather than having all players on injured reserve out for the season.

6. Allowing one roster exemption per team per week for a player who is inactive with a concussion.

PFT Planet, tell us how you feel about the proposed rules changes.

82 responses to “Proposed rule changes for 2012

  1. Most are terrible, the league has to be the league and realize these guys are professional athletes. This is a physical sport, stop treating them like it’s Pop Warner!

  2. cardiovascularendurance says: Mar 21, 2012 4:05 PM

    I loved it when that ref backhanded Ryan like that.

    I had to go back and look at the picture again, but that’s absolutely awesome. “Gimme my money, ho!”

  3. 6. Allowing one roster exemption per team per week for a player who is inactive with a concussion.

    Given that some teams have their defense fake injury to slow down play, couldn’t this similarly be used to bring in someone for a slightly sprained ankle, eeeerrrr, I mean concussion?

  4. Overtime rule, trade deadline and IR adjustment would be excellent additions.

  5. I love all the changes. It’s also good to see the NFL looking out for defenseless Defensive players. I’m glad they’ve realized defensive players also have careers, lives and families to worry about. Good work NFL. The only rule I would add:

    foosball11 says:
    Mar 21, 2012 4:06 PM
    how about the NFL going back to playing football?

  6. I’m fine with those. But can the competition committee be disbanded after they vote on these? Every year they feel like they need to justify their existence by adding more rules. Sooner or later it will ruin the game.

    The committee should only come back when needed.

  7. Surprisingly, most of what I see is good. Nothing really stands out as a horrible idea.

  8. They still need to modify the pass interference penalty – 15 yards, rather than spot of the ball.

  9. I’m surprised they aren’t looking over the rule that cost DeSean that 50 yard catch where a defensive penalty and a dead-ball offensive penalty offset. If there wasn’t a defensive penalty then the catch would stand minus 15 yards, but if there is a defensive penalty then the catch is negated, thus a defensive penalty negated a long gain for the offense.

    I hope I explained that right.

  10. I like them all.

    I’d expand by #6 to include players who have lost an immediate family member. You get an exemption for a suspended player, but not if your kid dies. Pretty crappy.

  11. Move the replays up to the booth so we don’t have to have the 4 minute dog and pony show for every replay. The announcers/fans in the NFL have 17 views and get the call right in about 45 seconds. College football booths do it in about 1 minute. Take it out of the refs hands completely.

  12. “jamaltimore says:
    Mar 21, 2012 4:06 PM

    #6 Hines Ward Rule!”

    You beat me to it!

    Now, with a rule named after him, he’s gotta be in the Hall.

  13. None of these seem that bad. Some of them I really like. Allowing someone on IR to come back later in the season is a good one. Replay rules all sound good.

    The too many men on the field rule seems a bit too much. Just put time back on the clock.

  14. Just end this charade and make all QB hits off limits. If the QB gets tagged, its a sack. Man, Goodell has RUINED this league!!

  15. 1. Should be either

    2. Boo…..thumbs down

    3. Yes…..better than before & not yet perfect

    4. Okay

    5. This must be the answer to the Tom Coughlin defense rule.

    6. Yes

    7. Makes sense

  16. Just make overtime ten minutes, and whomever has the lead at the end of the game wins. It might lead to a few more ties per year (probably not many), but the most exciting plays are the ones that come in the final seconds, not on sudden-death plays. With time winding down on the clock, and the game in the balance: that’s where the excitement comes from football. Baseball has sudden-death (ie. the bottom of the ninth), and who wants to be like that?

  17. I’ve been screaming for years for changes in the Injured Reserve rule! Why are players lost for the year from injuries they can clearly come back from that same season??!!

  18. Overtime rule should have applied to the regular season 2 years ago, so that they could use those games to tryout the rule , rather than the playoff games. That said, I’m glad they finally added it; another year of it being part of the playoffs but not the season would have just been stupid. It is a much fairer rule now, more equitable than the first FG wins rule, and much less silly than the college rule which randomly puts the ball at the opponents 25 with no clock. College should have had the QBs for each team see how many footballs that they can throw through a clown’s mouth in 30 seconds, it makes about as much sense as what they have now.

  19. 6. Expanding the defenseless player rule to protect defensive players on crackback blocks, making it illegal to hit them in the head or neck area.
    Looks like Hines retired at the perfect time.

  20. Maybe you should just let the offense have 12 guys on the field on third downs. Then they can keep an extra blocker in to protect the qb’s.

    This is getting to be a joke, if it isn’t already. The qb’s are already protected more than anyone on the field. GEEEEZ let them play the game

  21. bylaw #5 seems like it is going to be implemented as a trial-run for a rule that would be needed for an expanded regular season schedule.

  22. I like all of them except for the the horsecollar tackle on the QB in the pocket. It’s hard enough to get a sack.

    I love the idea of allowing players placed on IR early in the season to return later in the season.

  23. Still no desire by the league to have all healthy players on the roster suit up?

    I continue to be baffled that the NFL pays up to 7 guys a full salary to sit out games when they are healthy.

  24. I like most of these proposed rules. The league should also consider spotting teams points while playing the Steelers to create better balance in those games. Steeler dominance isn’t fair, we rocognize that, and we’re sorry.

  25. I always thought the IR rule was stupid. Many injured players are ready to come back before the end of the season but can’t because of the rule that once on IR, you’re done for the season. The horsecollar rule on QBs just means that there will be more penalties on defensive linemen trying to do their jobs. No doubt, the sack totals will go down.
    Other than those two things, I don’t think any of the proposed rule changes will make a significant difference.

  26. The league also considered the following bylaws

    does that mean the IR rule and the trade deadline rule were considered but shelved?

    both should be put in place.

  27. why not let all 53 players dress on Sunday? Why do you have to have inactive players?
    I love the idea of the replay review being done in the booth!!

  28. There were a handful of plays last year where it was pretty obvious that it was a score, but for various reasons couldn’t be reviewed; if the same play had been ruled a touchdown, it would have been automatically reviewed. They need to expand it to include both scoring plays and plays that are debatably scoring plays.

    They also need full time refs. Players spend the offseason working out. Coaches/GMs spend the offseason signing players and scouting. Refs need to be spending the offseason honing the understanding of the rules and watching film to better understand the proper calls in various situations.

  29. Offensive Line should be allowed to hold on running plays.

    This is the most inconsistent call made/ not made by the refs because it HAPPENS ON EVERY PLAY anyway.

    Make it legal and take one way for the refs to affect a game away.

  30. Refs should be full time employees of the NFL – they should be required to watch film 4 days a week to get consistency across the league.

    Unbelievable that a Multi-billion $ enterprise uses part time employees in such a critical role.

  31. How about ending the absolute worst rule in football. That would be the pass interference rule which puts the ball at the point of infraction! Receivers and the crowd have become experts at influencing officials to throw flags. This game altering abomination needs to be permanently swept out. It creates 20-80 yard penalties for goodness sake. Get back to allowable hand checking by soon to be extinct DBs. And go to a simple 15 yard penalty rule on any kind of pass interference (no automatic First downs). Why artificially reward an inept offense facing third and 20 or 30?

  32. blacknole08 says:
    Mar 21, 2012 4:19 PM
    They should look into the rule of exactly what constitutes intentional grounding

    Tom Brady in the SB is one instance.

  33. #2: BS. Should have gone the other way. Horse collars were called waaaaaaay too much last year.

    But, since they’re going this direction, why not add hair to the list? So you can’t use the neck area of the shoulder pad, the back of the shoulder pad, the back of the jersey, hair ….. Why not just outlaw all tackles from behind? Since we’re so giddy about safety, let’s just turn it into two hand touch.

  34. The IR rules are a joke. Go to the baseball disabled list model – 7-day DL for concussions, 15-day DL for mild to moderate injuries, and a 60-day DL for serious injuries, and players on the 60-day DL don’t count as players on your 53-man roster.

    The overtime debate is equally a joke. Keep it like it is – sudden death, first score of any type wins. “But it’s not fair for a team to win because they win a coin flip.” Too freaking bad. You had 60 minutes to beat the opponent. You lose the coin flip and the other team scores right away, them’s the breaks. You shouldn’t have let the game get to OT in the first place. Put you big boy drawers on and quit crying.

  35. Overtime rule: Each team shall be afforded at least one offensive possession, then sudden death. I.e. If the coin toss winner receives the ball and scores a TD on their first possession, then the other team still gets to receive the ball and attempt to tie the game. You could actually defer the kickoff this way. Also, it would still eliminate the “kick a FG right away and win” tactic. Once each team has had the ball on offense, then the first score wins. Or, if the defense returns a pick six, then that team wins due to the first team already having an offensive possession.

  36. hscorpio says:
    Mar 21, 2012 4:29 PM

    Still no desire by the league to have all healthy players on the roster suit up?

    I continue to be baffled that the NFL pays up to 7 guys a full salary to sit out games when they are healthy.


    Well, here in Carolina, even if all 53 players were considered active, Jimmy Clausen still wouldn’t have been allowed to wear a uniform.

  37. Some of these rules make sense but others, not so much.

    #2 – It has been said before, but I agree that we are protecting the quarterback too much these days. No need to go further. The horse-collar issue is really only dangerous when a player is on the run

    #5 – Calling this a dead play when the defense has too many people is absurd. It should continue to be treated as a free play for the offense. On the other hand, when the offense has it, I am in agreement with a dead play call.

    #7 – Automatically reviewing turnovers is a bad idea. The turnovers is where the challenges really come into play. A lot of these is a judgement call and should still be on the team that did not benefit from it to see if they want to risk it. This is a big game changer play that shouldn’t be automatically reviewed.

    The other rules I agree with, but at the same time do not feel they are necessary.

  38. Just fix the OT already. It’s an OFFENSIVE game, now. Not defensive. To say otherwise is naive. Put it on the 20 and go, just like college. Fans would love it.

  39. Why is the league so against one-drive-and-score overtimes?

    The horse collar tackle rule, while certainly commendable, is still a bit of a judgement call.

    What’s wrong with having the on-field ref be able to call a review?

    The “defenseless player” rules are silly.

    Replay needs to be limited to scores, not turnovers – some games are needlessly prolonged because of replay.

    On bylaws, I like the proposed change to IR and trade deadline.

  40. IR has always been interesting to track and something that many were reluctant to use due to the finality it brings to the player’s season. Often, teams carry the player on their roster for quite a long time before pulling the final trigger. Peyton Manning was the biggest example last year. If a team knows they would lose the player for only 6-8 weeks or so due to a mild injury, they would likely use the new rule to place them on IR. Many more players will hit the IR list.

    Not sure I like this rule as it seems to be saying that there is no IR anymore and it is just an “injury list” that has no limits to how many players are on it. Could a team be real aggressive and put 5-10 players on it a week and by mid-season have 50 players on it that are basically ready to situationally be played, if needed? Perhaps a limited number should be allowed for the season. Say 3 players can be designated for return. In this case, there would be No time restraint, but the team would have to provide the league one week irrevocable notice.

    I also wonder what impact placing a player on IR has on the overall salary cap restrictions? Increasing the number of players in IR and subsequently on the teams would seem to be a salary cap concern.

  41. The QB rule has gone way too far, and I wish there was some leeway with it. On the other hand, some of the rules are ok except the automatic replay on turnovers which will lengthen games big time. Personally I would like it if all ejections are reviewed as there are some gray areas in determining whether or not a guy should be ejected for a late hit.

  42. If pass interference is going to be called like it is today then it needs to be a 15 yarder, not a spot foul.

    Or quit calling it so tight, but we all know that won’t happen.

  43. Moving the trade deadline back a few weeks would be nice, and the modifications to the IR rules should have been made a while ago. They also need to change the illegal contact/defensive holding penalty to yardage only, and remove the automatic first down– I’m so friggin’ sick of seeing third-and-a-mile situations converted thanks to a ticky-tack incidental bump on a guy who was only running a ten yard route anyway.

  44. The proposals make sense and should speed up the game with the replay revisions. The overtime change is way overdue.

  45. Football is a violent game played by violent men. You can pass all the rules you want, but any attempt to remove the violence from the game waters down the product.

    If they were serious about player safety, and not public image, they’d engineer a safer helmet(they use the same helmet as 20 years ago), and put a weight limit on players based on position.

    But let’s not kid ourselves, 3 things drive football’s rabid fanbase. Fantasy, gambling, and VIOLENCE. With all three, any attempts to ‘fix’ them is simply window dressing.

  46. OT rule is still dumb. Simple OT rule that would work and is fair to everyone:

    Right before OT begins, coaches have their players bring a card to the ref. On the card is the yard line that you are willing to take the ball. Whichever team is willing to take the ball deeper in it’s own territory gets the ball to start OT.

    Example: Pack and Saints go into OT. Saints don’t want to give Rodgers the ball with a chance to win so they are willing to take the ball at their own 8 yard line. Pack doesn’t want to give the ball to Brees, so they wrote down they’d take it at their own 6. Pack then start OT with the ball at their own 6 yard line – sudden death.

    Added bonus – no extra KO in OT, which they say causes a lot of injuries.

    You’re welcome, NFL.

  47. I’m good with all the proposals–ecstatic about #1. But I have concerns about the implementation of #7.

    When automatic review of scoring plays was first implemented last season, the idea was no challenges because all scores would be reviewed. That was great when the play was ruled a score But when the play was wrongly ruled not to be a score, there was no automatic review and the coaches couldn’t challenge. We saw that happen last season. Will that happen now if the field officials can’t spot a fumble or int? No automatic review and no coach’s challenge either? Have they worked out the kinks this time?

  48. I agree with the comment from deb….the rule is all scoring plays are reviewed but it should be all scoring plays whether they counted or not should be reviewed. Right now they can take away TDs if the call was wrong but they cant give TDs if the call was wrong…i dont get it. Anyway i like all the proposals…nothing that makes the game softer besides what theyve already done. Love moving trade deadline to week 8…teams dont know what they are yet after week 6, id actually like it to be week 10.

  49. I like the change to the OT rule. To me, both teams need their hands on the ball once. I’m not sure I like the rule about reviews going to the booth official though. I think it will slow things down even more.

  50. How about they address the one thing they never do? Why are offensive players allowed to smack, push, hold on to and otherwise facemask a defender, but the defender can’t do it to the offense? What’s good for one side MUST BE good for the other or bad (however you want to veiw it).
    And on the same note, why can a guy on offense lead with his head, but a guy on defense can’t? Again, let’s be fair and make it the same for both sides of the ball.
    They keep claiming they want to do things for player safety. It looks more to me like they want to do it for Offensive players only and to make the scores go through the roof.
    Please allow defensive players to play. The game is really about that, not glamour boys scoring points.

  51. They still have the OT rule wrong! NO team should have an advantage through the flip of a coin! On the first possession after coin flip, if the team that wins the flip scores in any fashion, the opposing team should be allowed a possession to have the same opportunity to score. Every possession after would be sudden death. So if the team that wins the flip scores a FG and the opposing team winds up scoring a TD on their possession, they win.

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