Competition Committee to unveil proposed 2015 rule changes

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Next week, the NFL’s owners, coaches, and General Managers will convene in Arizona for the annual league meetings.  Those meetings include consideration by the owners of potential rule changes for the next year.

Before those changes can be considered by the owners, proposed changes need to be made by the Competition Committee.  On Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Competition Committee will conduct its annual media conference call during which the official 2015 proposals are unveiled.

We’ll post the information as it is released, eventually crafting a full list of all rule and bylaw changes proposed by the Competition Committee and by individual teams.  Eventually, at least 24 of the 32 owners must vote in favor of the change for the change to be made.

Here’s a list of the subjects that may (or may not) be on the list of proposed changes.

1.  Definition of a catch.

The disconnect between the NFL’s definition of a catch and the public’s expectations for what a catch should became more obvious than ever late in a divisional-round game between the Cowboys and Packers, during which Dallas receiver Dez Bryant made what ultimately was the greatest catch in NFL history that didn’t count.  It seemed that the stage had been set for a rewriting of the rule to mesh with the know-it-when-you-see-it, but Rams coach Jeff Fisher already has cautioned that a change could be too hard to make.

Which likely means there will be no change proposed by the Competition Committee for 2015.  But a change could still be proposed by one or more teams.

2.  Pass interference.

The week before the Cowboys seemed to be robbed of a potential win over the Packers in Green Bay, the Lions seemed to be robbed of a potential win over the Cowboys in Dallas due to the failure of the officials to call defensive holding or pass interference in a key moment.  One way to address the problem would be to use instant replay for pass interference calls, a rule the CFL adopted in 2014.

NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent has suggested that a compromise could be the adjustment of the defensive pass interference foul to a 15-yard penalty.  Which seems like a bad way to rectify the mistakes made by officials when deciding whether interference has happened.

3.  Instant replay.

The NFL continuously explores potential improvements to the instant replay process.  Last year, the biggest change came from the direct involvement of V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino in the reviews.  This year, a push could continue to allow coaches to use their two challenges per game (three if the first two are successful) for any mistake they believe can be shown via indisputable visual evidence.

4.  Roster sizes.

PFT has reported that the Competition Committee discussed the possibility of expanding rosters from 53 to 55.  That would create 64 more NFL jobs.

The Competition Committee also has discussed potential roster changes for short-week games.  PFT reported last month that this could entail allowing all players on the roster to be active for Thursday games.

5.  Chop blocks.

Vincent has acknowledged that the chop block, which is still permitted in three specific situations, could be eliminated completely from the NFL, in large part because it has been completely eliminated from the lower levels of the game.

6.  London games.

Vincent has said that the Competition Committee has explored improving games played in London.  Specific potential changes weren’t identified.

7.  Playoff changes.

A year ago, it seemed inevitable that the NFL would expand the postseason from 12 to 14 games.  It now seems likely, if not definite, that the change will be postponed one more year, so that the extra postseason games can be tied to the Thursday night package, both of which would be marketed to networks for 2016.

Chatter also has emerged from time to time regarding reseeding of the playoffs to strip the automatic home game from a team that emerged as the best of four bad teams, like the Panthers did in 2014.

8.  Extra point.

Last year, the NFL approved a partial preseason experiment premised on moving the one-point try from the two to the 15-yard line.  The Pro Bowl included a narrowing of the goal posts.  The NFL remains intent on either making the PAT a more relevant and compelling play — or getting rid of it.

9. Technological advances.

The Pro Bowl included other experiments, including the replacement of the clunky replay-review booth with a tablet and headphone combo that both streamlines the process and further justifies the major investments by Microsoft and Bose in the NFL by giving the companies more natural opportunities for their names and products to be displayed during games.  Also, coaches and players were able to watch game tape from the sidelines on the tablets at the Pro Bowl; so far, tablets have been used only for the review of still images.

10.  Safety.

The timing of Chris Borland’s retirement gives the NFL an opportunity to immediately and efficiently explore potential changes to the game aimed at making it safer at the league meetings. The balance continues to be safety on one hand and the fundamental nature of the game on the other.  Go too far one way, and more players may choose to walk away.  Go too far the other way, and the NFL creates an opening for an old-school, full-contact competitor to emerge.

74 responses to “Competition Committee to unveil proposed 2015 rule changes

  1. “Dallas receiver Dez Bryant made what ultimately was the greatest catch in NFL history that didn’t count. ”

    In no way, shape or form was that catch better than Tyree’s in the Super Bowl

  2. The Lions were still up in that game. The PI no call was not why the Lions lost. They were being the Lions, that is why they lost.

  3. Number 10 Safety.
    Refuse to play until they take the top off of each helmet. Only cover the sides and the back of the players head. No more leading with the head.

  4. Replay should be simple. EVERYTHING SHOULD BE REVIEWABLE. There should be no exclusions. Every catch, sack, penalty and everything in between should be eligible to be challenged. If you’re wrong twice, then you’re done, but if you’re right you should be able to challenge every BS call made on the field over and over until the NFL stops favoring certain teams and players.

  5. What about overtime rules? No reason rules for overtime should be different in playoffs and if a team scores a td the other team should have a chance to answer with a td. Time to finally get it right

  6. PI should absolutely be a 15 yarder. No way they can justify any contact at all being PI and then giving them 40+ yards because a QB just threw it up with no other options. It seems that getting a PI call is now on page one of every playbook.

  7. Lots of plays in every sport are almost automatic, just like the PAT is in football. But you don’t see other leagues doing away with those plays. How many times does a second baseman botch a throw to first? Almost never. Do they still have to make the throw? Yes.

    And what happens when a team lines up for a FG that is no longer than a PAT? Should they automatically get three points?

  8. you forgot these changes.

    1) all players must now wear flags and the game is 2 hand touch

    2) the superbowl teams must be teams that the commish approves of and likes

    3) peyton manning and tom brady will have what is called “the scooter rule” to make sure they can play for another 20 years, so they can ride scooters around the field and have rocket launchers attached so they can fire the ball deep down the field insuring the league has it’s 2 best qb’s around long term.

  9. “Dallas receiver Dez Bryant made what ultimately was the greatest catch in NFL history that didn’t count. ”

    In no way, shape or form was that catch better than Tyree’s in the Super Bowl

    Yeah, but since Tyree’s catch counted Tyree’s catch can hardly be the greatest catch that didn’t count.

  10. Meanwhile, here is the required reminder that apparently is necessary for EVERY time the Lion/Cowboys non-P.I. call is brought up: the supposed P.I. was immediately preceded by the offensive player facemasking the defensive player, and said facemasking was the reason the defender couldn’t turn his head and ended up making [very slight] contact.

    There have been arguments made that the defender committed a holding penalty right away in the play…fair enough, but that has nothing to do with P.I. And the offensive player caused the P.I., so clearly it was NOT P.I. So can we stop saying it was P.I. If you actually paid any attention instead of whining like crazy you would have seen the offensive penalty that also happened on the play.

    Either it was holding by the defense offset by the facemask, or it was a facemask penalty. I won’t argue which one it was, but it was NOT a P.I. And if replay had been allowed on the play, the facemask would have been seen. Maybe the play outcome would have been different (offsetting), but the Lions didn’t get jobbed on the play.

  11. 1. A Catch – Player demonstrates control through the process and demonstrates a football move after securing the ball, or falls to the ground. The ground cannot be used to “trap” or otherwise assist in the catch.

    2. Roughing the Passer – A helmet to helmet hit, or any obviously intentional hit to the head or knees is roughing the passer. ALL OTHER HITS ON THE QB ARE LEGAL.

    3. Force outs – If a receiver is forced out after making a catch but before his feet have a chance to touch the ground, it’s a defensive penalty.

    4. Incidental contact in the secondary – All contact in the secondary is incidental except when the receiver’s hands are restrained or he is forced out of his route beyond 5 years.

    5. Extra points are attempted from the 51 yard line.

    There’s your rule changes.

  12. goodellisruiningtheleague says:
    Mar 18, 2015 9:59 AM
    “Dallas receiver Dez Bryant made what ultimately was the greatest catch in NFL history that didn’t count. ”

    In no way, shape or form was that catch better than Tyree’s in the Super Bowl

    It says right there that it was “the greatest catch in NFL history that didn’t count. ”

    I am pretty sure that Trree’s cath in the Super Bowl counterd.

  13. Nothing about the Patriot’s use of eligible/ineligible player shifts.

    That can’t be right. Harbaugh said it would be addressed! It must be.

    Otherwise we would have to conclude that the rules committee agreed that it was not “against the rules” and that Harbaugh was badly out coached and is a finger-pointing crybaby.


  14. The main reason players lead with the head is poor tackling technique. They try to shoulder block the guy to the ground. And those players are burned with missed tackles at least a couple of times each game.

    Tackle with the arms, with the head up, as is supposed to happen, and accidental and/or intentional head-to-head collisions will be decreased.

    Have players do tackling drills with no helmets or pads, like rugby players do. I never got hurt playing rugby, but I did playing football, because IMO the equipment gives players a sense of invulnerability.

    Get rid of chop blocks.

    Leave PATs alone, or move them out a bit. Having a play that has potential for chaos is always good.

    Main consideration to make: you will never please everyone, so only make changes if you think they make the game better and/or safer.

  15. Number 1 in league importance is actually an updated version of a rule enacted several times over the years. It’s the “What can we change this year so all these whining inferior coaches can keep up with Belichick” rule, version 2015.

  16. 1. I don’t see it being changed. Does it need to be? I think so. Can the wording be done right to make sense? I think they will have a hard enough time that it won’t happen.

    2. Needs to be challengeable/reviewable. But that really leads into…

    3. Everything should be reviewable/challengeable. Keep the same number of challenges, or maybe add one more at most.

    4. With the cap increasing quite a bit, they should add more roster spots. Open up Thursday to everyone on the roster and increase regular game by a couple spots as well. Should help lessen injuries.

    5. Yea, just get rid of them. Knees can be taken out so easily.

    6. Fix your home turf (i.e. the LA situation) before worrying about abroad.

    7. It’s gonna happen. I don’t mind the extra game with the 2 seed not getting a week off. Although that does mean fully half the NFL is in the playoffs every year. That’s hardly “elite” teams.

    7B. What’s the point of divisions if it doesn’t get you a home game? Go the NHL way and have just two conferences, no division rivalries anymore? Bleh. I’m fine with keeping it the way it is.

    8. Narrow goal posts would suck for FGs. I think moving it back is the better option.

    9. LOL. “watch game tape on the sidelines”. The Patriots didn’t even do that in 2007…?
    Also, for reviews. Anyone been watching the Cricket World Cup? It’s done by a ref not in the stadium or wherever. It’s reviewed and the verdict given out in like 30 seconds. Also, goal line tech should be brought in.

    10. Lol. Safety is only trempeted, rarely followed through on. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one. There are better helmets and other equipment out there, but because they aren’t major sponsorship possibilities, they aren’t being used. Money trumps safety every time in the NFL.

  17. Playoff seedings should be done by records. Division winners should not be automatically receiving a home game in the wild card round.

  18. The catch definition is easy to fix. Possession/control (same rules about being in bounds–2 feet etc.) + player movement with the ball under control = catch. If the ball pops out upon hitting the ground: defender contact = catch/down by contact, no defender contact = catch/fumble. Those bang-bang plays where the defender separates the ball would be incomplete and so would diving attempts where first contact with ground jars the ball loose. Get rid of all the rest of the speculative garbage.

  19. Safety:

    The padding needs to be on the outside of the helmet as well as the inside to be able to better absorb hits. The NFL is ignoring this obvious fix primarily on aesthetic reasons.

  20. The league needs relegation — like the Premier Football (Soccer) league in Britain.

    Set up two more teams — Las Vegas and San Antonio.

    Then each year, the two teams that finish the season with the worst records are relegated — have to sit out the following year, a “time-out” of sorts — and the two teams relegated the year before rejoin the league.

    In Britain, relegated teams drop to a lower level league. But there is no such league here.

  21. The league is moving in the right direction. The game is getting safer and the officiating is improving (through replay). I would take a look at having one foot in bounds count as a reception, instead of two. That would result in more throws to the sidelines which would cut down on mid-field collisions (injuries/concussions). It would also get QBs out of the pocket (less concussions), and move the game toward smaller/faster guys. Again, fewer injuries. I can’t think of one rule change that could eliminate injuries like this one.

  22. As a Niners fan, we appreciate what Chris Borland did for us in 1 season and the “Safety” factor concern.

    A few points to this:
    – Chris and his family knew his first season might be his last before the season even started which they came out and publicly stated. He left on his own terms out of fear for his long term health……but he left nonetheless.
    – When someone CHOOSES to be a Police Officer or Firefighter, unless they are completely ignorant, they know there is a high risk of being shot and killed, or burned to death,k on the job prior to making the decision to choose that line of work.
    – Football players KNOW the potential injury risk before being drafted, as most played in college and are perfectly aware of the risk/reward potential in the NFL. Risk = health issues, Reward = $$$$$$$.

    So stop playing the Borland card as a means to change the rules or equipment in the game. I love Chris as a football player and respect his decision, but he CHOSE to leave out of fear for his health.

  23. If the NFL does open up the Thursday night games to the entire roster, doesn’t that mean that the players are correct in saying the shorter weeks do harm? If so, then why not scrap them all together?

    My biggest beef with the NFL is that it’s going where the NBA is. The NBA is a brutal game to watch – it’s about a small group of players with questionable officiating and scheduling that makes the on-court product intolerable at times because games are too close together, leading to tired players and sloppy play.

  24. The whole NFL argument about narrowing the post to make extra points more exciting is dumb. You want to bring back excitement? Change the start of the kickoff so that we can actually see returns.

    Yea returns are dangerous, but it’s a part of the game!

  25. I hope they expand the playoffs to more teams so that the Chiefs will have a chance at making them.

    The Chiefs have not won a playoff game since 1993.

  26. My idea for the PAT.

    If you decide to go for 2, then you get to kickoff from the 40 yard line. If you go for 1, then you kickoff from the 30 yard line.

  27. A change to the defensive pass interference rule to allow officials to review the play would have given the Super Bowl victory to the Seahawks. Clearly, Malcom Butler blew up Rickardo Lockette when he ‘went through the back of the receiver’. This is not allowed by current rules but is also not reviewable.

  28. “A catch is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a pass, kick, or fumble in flight (See 8-1-3).
    Note 1: It is a catch if in the process of attempting to catch the ball, a player secures control of the ball prior to
    the ball touching the ground and that control is maintained after the ball has touched the ground.”

    Perfectly clear language from the rule book.

    Perfectly clear video that Bryant lost control when he touched the ball to the ground. No catch.

  29. Seriously?

    No talk about oversight of the footballs that are not currently in game use? No logging PSIs, or whatever the heck would have ended the brouhaha from last year?

    Either that means Kraft is definitely owed a public apology or the NFL doesn’t even know where the low-hanging fruit is.

  30. You can’t allow penalties to be reviewed. On EVERY play there are penalties that aren’t called, either because they are missed or because they are negligible. That Detroit/Dallas game for example: Red Flag on PI, but the review showed how many other penalties? And what if there is a penalty shown during the replay that does not involve the specific event – the ref notices holding while reviewing a roughing the passer penalty – how does he rule?

  31. A rule change to consider… I’ve seen several games where these running QBs act like they are running out of bounds so the defender pulls up to avoid a late hit, only to have the QB turn up field for a few more yards. If they are going to rule when a QB “gives up on a play” with a slide, then they should rule when a QB is going out of bounds he can’t change his mind.

    They also have similar rules like when a punter flops – it’s a penalty. Same thing should apply. It would reduce the number of late hits on QBs because a defender would know they aren’t going to be able to fake it and get extra yards.

  32. What difference does it make what rules are on the books if the league won’t do anything to enforce them? There are rules in place right now that no one follows, rules that only some follow, and a few rules that certain teams simply find a way to ignore. Corruption at its finest!

  33. “Perfectly clear language from the rule book.

    Perfectly clear video that Bryant lost control when he touched the ball to the ground. No catch.”

    The ground can’t cause a fumble, but apparently it can play defensive back.

  34. The replay booth on the sidelines looks ridiculous. They’re still using those huge clunky tube TVs instead of flatscreens and HD quality images. Combine the fuzzy images with blind refs and it’s no wonder they get so many replay calls wrong.

    Kidding (sort of)

  35. Since 2010, the Vikings have appeared in zero nationally broadcasted games. This is a storied franchise with an NFL record 27 playoff losses under their sizeable belt. I say we lift the ban this season so the whole country can watch them finish in last place for what seems like 5 years in a row.


  36. what about eligible/ineligible receiver rules changes?

    people need to be able to say that the 2014 Patriots cheated because they did things that became illegal in 2015.

    where’s the justice here?

  37. as someone else noted, pass interference should be 15 yards. it seems like every time the qb throws the ball the refs could call pass interference and/or holding. the refs call it sometimes, sometimes they don’t. I suppose that’s fine, but the penalty should not be so oppressive when whether it is called or not is left to the whim of an official.

  38. I do NOT understand why those who think 15 yards for PI is a good thing don’t realize this will result in MUCH more PI. Just knock the receiver on his ass 50 yds down field because all you’re gonna lose is 15 yards.

    What a horrible idea this is. It works in college because, well, college players just aren’t that good. In the NFL this will have a debilitating affect on games and offense.

    Just review everything for heaven’s sake.

  39. Please expand the playoffs to include all 32 teams. It’s the only way Oakland will stand a chance. Or Carson… or LA… or whatever they are calling themselves these days.

  40. SparkyGump says:
    Mar 18, 2015 10:44 AM

    The padding needs to be on the outside of the helmet as well as the inside to be able to better absorb hits. The NFL is ignoring this obvious fix primarily on aesthetic reasons.
    Exterior padding would not stop concussions because force of momentum would still be there (brain to skull). It would also potentially increase neck and spinal injuries because the padding would grab and reduce glancing blows. Helmets prevent fractures not concussions

  41. I don’t understand why they are so hell bent on doing something with extra points. And a 15 yard penalty for pass interference? Ok have fun watching db’s tackling WR’s when they get beat. I won’t be

  42. Proposed Rule Changes:

    1. No more ties. Play until someone wins. Switch to college OT format except ball gets spotted at the 40 not 25. Then we dont have to hear whining, we didnt get the ball wah wah wah.

    2. No more forward progress. Unless the defense picks up an offensive player off of the ground and carries him back then play is dead at spot they picked him off ground.

    3. Eliminate chop blocks


  43. Cont.

    4. A catch is clear possession of the ball regardless of football move being made.

    5. Unlimited challenges if challenge is correct. Shouldnt be penalized for bad refs.

    6. Roughing the QB can only be following:
    A. Hand or helmet to head(including facemask)
    B. Low hit below the knee

  44. Ok, to give Bill Bellicheck props, good job finding the loophole for eligible players reporting as ineligible. That still is necessary on punts. But are we now going to see this going forward on other downs?

    And spare me. I understand deception is part of the game (unbalanced lines, different formations, play action, reverses, etc.). But seriously, this needed to be fixed.

    Guess more sore arse is still showing since last January.

  45. Cont.

    7. 15 yard penalty for any offensive lineman pushing a running back or WR into the end zone or forward in any way.

    8. No more using whistle blew play dead

    9. All fumbles and PI are reviewable


  46. Roughing the QB also has to do with when the pass is released, not just where on the body the hit occurs.

  47. Can they please do away with every penalty a defense commits resulting in an “automatic” first down???????

    A 5 yd penalty should be a 5 yd penalty, if the 5 yds gets the offense a first down, then so be it.

  48. I could fix this league in two seconds if they let me. Most of these on field issues are tied to one another. If they let defenses play more bump and run, the track meet slows down… Catches become more definitive and easier to spot…. Bad calls and game changing penalties are minimized and head injuries lessen. It’s all common sense.

    I know the NFL loves scoring to placate ff fans so they weigh that $$ vs injuries and viewership $$ beats it every time.

  49. There should be a Thursday-game rule that the teams can’t be scheduled the Sunday-Monday weekend before. (in other words, only schedule teams coming off a bye).

  50. Define catch as follows.
    1 clean possession

    2. Two feet down, or 1 foot + body part, or any single body part down that would make player considered tackled, IE a knee or butt.

    3. A third foot or other body part down completes the act of catch. If no third foot or body part, continue to 4.

    4 a small moment of time. This can be defined specifically to a number of frames on a replay. If ball is still possessed after frame 10 (or whatever) then catch is complete. This is needed to eliminate the hit that comes simultaneously with the catch. That should be incomplete and not a fumble.

    This seems complicated written out but it’s actually very simple and it would clearly define by number of frames, how long the WR must have the ball to be a catch. Software can easily count the frames and the replay tech can freeze the video at that point. If he still has the ball, it’s a catch.

  51. There should be no change to the playoff format, at all. You win your division, you get a home game. If you don’t like it, win your division.

    It is pretty simple when it comes to fixing the catch issue: two steps is a football move. Problem solved.

    London games: cancel them all, now.

    Extra Point: a boring but important part of the game. Leave it alone.

    And finally, safety. You cannot make the game safer by implementing rules. It’s an unsafe sport and players are compensated based on their risks. It’s time to realize that and move on.

  52. Replay for PI is the most crucial rule that needs to happen. You can challenge a spot of the ball to gain 6″ but you can’t challenge a “bang bang” play like PI that might be a 40 yard penalty?

    Absurd. You are asking 60 year old, part time refs to run stride for stride deep down the field with NFL WR’s and DB’s who have near world class speed and make a split second call on whether the DB arm barred the WR or something? Allow a challenge of PI…that’s all I ask. PI’s can be game changers.

  53. SparkyGump says: Mar 18, 2015 10:44 AM


    The padding needs to be on the outside of the helmet as well as the inside to be able to better absorb hits. The NFL is ignoring this obvious fix primarily on aesthetic reasons.
    Heretofore to be known as “The Great Gazoo” rule.

  54. Catch: Give 100 different guys in bars scattered across the country clickers (like America’s Favorite Videos) to vote with on every pass play. Let them have, say 10 seconds to vote. IF the play is challenged, that vote counts as the deciding factor on the officials ruling. Fans/NFL are winners on all fronts

  55. If the League does nothing else, they need to allow everything to be reviewable via challenge flag.

    It would remove a ton of confusion, fix a lot of bad calls and would not delay the game much, seeing as the number of challenge flags per coach per game wouldn’t need to change.

  56. The league is all about $$$. Leave the Surface Pros off the sideline. You think Belicheat cheated before? He’ll have his cronies out there emailing videos of hand signals directly to the sidelines soon. Or interfering with the visiting team’s wifi connection to gain his “advantage”.

    I’m sure Roger will have the Surface Pros wiped just at the proper time.

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