Rule changes are the real focus of league meetings

With all the talk about the Saints’ bounty system and the Redskins-Cowboys cap penalties, it’s easy to lose sight of the primary purpose of the league meetings in March.

The owners will consider proposed rule changes, the unveiling of which was widely overlooked last Wednesday afternoon as we were all processing Sean Payton’s one-year banishment from the Bayou and Tim Tebow’s exodus to New York.

MDS  summarized the proposals, virtually in real time.  (He did such a good job that at least one newspaper in an NFL city copied and pasted the entire thing, word for word, and put someone else’s name at the bottom.)

Here are the most important possible revisions to the rule book.

1.  The Steelers have proposed that the overtime rule used in the postseason be applied to the regular season.  (It’s a move that was expected in May 2010, after the new postseason overtime rule was promulgated.  The Competition Committee will share its position on the proposal when it is presented to the owners.  Though many coaches were opposed to the change in the overtime rules, they also believe that the same rules should apply to both the regular season and the playoffs.)

2.  The Bills have proposed that the replay process by confined to the replay booth.  (This one makes too much sense to pass; the on-field dog-and-pony show consumes too much time.  Again, the Competition Committee will share its views when presenting the proposed rule to the owners.)

3.  The Competition Committee has proposed that turnovers would be subject to automatic review, joining scoring plays and all plays in the final two minutes of either half.  (The opposite would not be true — a potential interception that is called an incomplete pass on the field would be reviewed only via coach’s challenge, or if it happens in the final two minutes of either half.)

4.  The Competition Committee has proposed a mild tweaking the rule regarding too many men on the field for the defensive team.  (This revision comes directly in response to the play from the final drive of Super Bowl XLVI, in which the Giants unwittingly revealed a loophole that would allow the defense to deliberately use an extra player, sacrificing five yards of meaningless field position and allowing precious seconds to evaporate from the clock.)

5.  The Competition Committee has proposed moving the trade deadline from the Tuesday after Week Six until the Tuesday after Week Eight.  (This long-overdue adjustment adjusts the balance between allowing teams to buy and sell players against discouraging fire sales and/or efforts to load up unfairly for a postseason run.)

6.  The Competition Committee has proposed expanding the preseason roster to 90 players, up from 80.  (This would give teams more bodies for training camp and preseason games.  With the initial cut after Week Three of the preseason entailing a drop to 80, it means that the final cuts would put up to 864 players on the market in one fell swoop on Labor Day Weekend.)

7.  The Competition Committee has proposed adjusting the injured reserve rules to allow players to return in the same season.  (The current rule shuts the player down for the entire year, in order to discourage stockpiling players who may not be hurt.  For players who truly have a short-term injury but whose skills don’t command holding a roster spot for part of the season, it’s unrealistic to shut them down for the full season.)

So amid all the natural drama arising from these meetings, be prepared to hear some news about whether these proposed changes are made.

19 responses to “Rule changes are the real focus of league meetings

  1. Rules regarding player safety: Review and implement as needed.

    Rules regarding competition: Review every TEN years and implement no more than three rule changes. Let the game evolve on its own.

    Overtime rules never should have been changed. They should have remained severe and capricious. Head coaches will now ALWAYS take their chances in overtime rather than go for the first down or the two point conversion. The new overtime rules reward cowardice and there is already enough of that in NFL head coaching ranks.

  2. Seems like the Steelers are still stinging from being beat by Tim Tebow……and they should be!!!


  3. #2 won’t happen unfortunately – this “dog and pony show” is a great time for a commercial…and we know that TV drives this game.

  4. If they really want to improve overtime, and make it more fair to both teams, they need to adopt the NCAA overtime rules. The NCAA’s replay system is much better and more fair also. But that makes too much sense, and if it comes from the college game the NFL won’t do it.

    How many years did the NCAA have a two-point conversion and the NFL refused to consider it? Same thing with having the goal posts on the back line instead of the goal line.

  5. How about a mechanism that would allow for replay of a play that was blown dead prematurely, or should not have been stopped when it was by the officials?

  6. Eliminate the “tuck” rule and define what the hell is a catch and isn’t a catch… clearly…

  7. When are they going to discuss extending the Trade Deadline? So many QBs were injured after it had passed and it happen so early into the season.

  8. Seems like the Steelers are still stinging from being beat by Tim Tebow……and they should be!!!


    I love when you haters show your IQ. The Steeler would have lost that game with the new or old overtime rules. Their proposal has nothing to do with their loss in Denver. It’s proposed because it doesn’t make any sense to have different rules in the regular season vs. the playoffs.

    Also, I’m curious to hear more about the rule with a player possibly coming back from I.R. I hadn’t heard anything about that but it seems like a very big deal to not be getting more press.

  9. As far as replay / challenges go, the NFL should do something similar to what the NHL does (They send all their reviews to Toronto). Instead of the head ref on the field looking at the play (leading to muffed calls and biases) set up a HQ somewhere in the country, and send all replays there, where you can hand pick the 10 best replay / officiating guys and have them look at it as a group.

  10. How about a rule that says that you can’t be penalized tens of millions of dollars in salary cap unless you actually break a rule?

    Also, no player should be allowed to be fined for on-field hits unless there was a flag thrown. If it’s that serious of a hit, it should get a flag. If the ref misses it, the NFL should also miss the chance to collect the fine.

  11. Way too many plays blown dead prematurely on qb fumbles called wrong as forward passes, same goes for backward passes they always rule as forward. Dissatisfied that they are not even discussing a way to improve that.

  12. The new 12 men on the field rule will do very little accept prevent an offense from having a free play and basically eliminate defensive illegal participation which is a 15 yard penalty. It would actually help defenses. A confused defense could simply keep a late substitute in rather than trying to get him off the field hoping to have the whistle blow the play dead. This will prevent a free play, and defenses won’t have to worry about the larger illegal participation penalty because refs would prevent the play from existing. However, to prevent Buddy Ryan from sending out 13 players at the line of scrimmage blowing the play dead makes sense. The refs can blow the play dead during a first and goal situation, make it half the distance and an auto first down.

  13. Every play should be reviewable from refs in the pressbox. I mean with modern day HDTV it’s ludicris that the NFL hasn’t added a full-time review official upstairs for every game. again they should have the right to challenge the officials on the field if the call seems obviously wrong no matter down and distance or time in the game.

  14. What is really needed are full time officials. Full time. Train and review rules year round. Have a real understanding of the game. Highly compensated. Lucrative positions that anyone holding them would not want to lose. Then the NFL will get better calls during games. It’s absolutely ludicrous that this multi-billion dollar business is officiated by practicing accountants, lawyers and gynecologists.

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