XFL plans a running clock to speed up the game

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The XFL is still more than a year away from its debut season, but some new rules the new league plans to implement will surely draw attention.

Most notable is a running clock to keep the game moving: Instead of stopping the clock on incomplete passes and runs out of bounds, the clock will keep running, except in the last two minutes of the half. That should make games move faster.

“Fans want to minimize idle time and speed up the game,” said Sam Schwartzstein, the XFL’s director of operations, in a video explaining the XFL’s rules. “We look at the play clock as one of the big things we want to change. Fans want more plays — less stall, more ball.”

To ensure the offense can line up quickly and start the next play, the XFL plans to have designated ball spotters who will spot the ball immediately after a play ends, taking that responsibility out of the referees’ hands.

Other changes the XFL is planning include a revamped kickoff that requires the kicking team to wait until the receiving team has caught the ball before running downfield, a punt rule modeled off the CFL’s requirement that returners get at least five yards of space to field the ball, and tiered extra points that do away with kicks entirely and allow the offense to score one point from the 2-yard line, two points from the 5-yard line or three points from the 15-yard line.

The XFL is working with a community college football team that has practiced under some of the XFL’s proposed rules, to see how it plays out with real players on the field. Based on the video the XFL has released, it looks promising.

67 responses to “XFL plans a running clock to speed up the game

  1. Fans want less commercials, less politics, and less flags. And I’d even be a fan of reducing the play clock by 5 seconds to speed up the game.

  2. If fans want more plays (which I generally agree with), doesn’t a running clock actually work against that?
    To minimize idle time a shorter play clock would be more effective.

  3. Meanwhile, an NFL Game lasts roughly 3 hrs 15 mins.

    Only 11-12 minutes of that time is actual Gameplay (that includes special teams plays which are often longer than most standard plays PLUS the 15-20 plays resulting in penalties).

    Around 65+ minutes are taken up by Commercials.

    There is literally more Halftime than there is actual game, let alone 6-7x more Commercials than Gameplay.

    Fans, sorry to break it to you but you’re getting played and most don’t even know it.

  4. Looks like the XFL didn’t learn their lesson even after they failed on their first attempt. Fans don’t want all of this gimmicky stuff. They just want quality football the way it was before Goodell ruined it.

  5. The NFL actually incorporated some of the camera angles that the original XFL used, right? Maybe it can cherry pick anything that works in this second iteration.

    I still have my doubts as to whether XFL v.2.0 will actually be any good, or whether consumers want another football league.

  6. …good move, 3.5 hours to watch a 1 hour game (27 minutes of action)is absurd…notice the NFL has started to speed up its games of late, late afternoon games ending at 7:25 (EST) instead of 7:45 (EST)

  7. A running clock is fine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be less time between plays. This isn’t the 60s, when QBs called their own plays and you had very limited player substitution. Now, you often see 2-3 players running off and on the field every play or two, and then you have to get the play call in to the QB, and then he calls it. Then, they line up, shift 4 or 5 times, try to get a hard count jump, and then finally snap the ball. If that continues, a running clock may just mean fewer plays and not any less time between plays.

  8. The point of the XFL isn’t to compete but to bring an alternative that people might enjoy so why not give it a shot? The NFL already is meddling with the rules to the point of absurdity so what the heck Vince give it a go.

  9. I don’t understand how a running clock will yield more plays. If the clock doesn’t stop on incomplete passes and runs out of bounds, it would yield less plays unless they’ll be giving offenses less time between plays or making the game more than 15 minutes per quarter.

  10. When fans complain about pace, it’s the constant stoppages to see if something is a catch or not and the constant flags

    Bringing back big hits and cutting out refs’ face time should be the 2 key things any new league should be trying to do

  11. want more plays? stop the clock after every play. shorten the play clock to 25 seconds. stop going to commercial after every change of possession.

  12. “Fans want more plays — less stall, more ball.”
    ====================

    Failed logic. How does a running clock produce more plays per game? It’s actually less. In the NFL, 3 incompletions burns maybe 20 seconds, XFL 3 incompletions will burn 120 seconds.

    Taken to extremes if every drive was 3 incompletions and punt (140 seconds total), the XFL game could end after 25 drives (or 100 plays). In comparison, the NFL would have 90 drives (each only 40 seconds of game clock) and about 360 plays.

  13. @johnodocks

    I think they are trying force to teams to play hurry up for the duration of the game. Not sure if it will work, but I think the thought process is that teams will move more quickly because they’ll have less time.

  14. As long as they don’t abandon the block in the back or holding call on every single kick return, I think I can convert. I need at least a little of my NFL game in the XFL.

    That, or a 6 minute review with 5 commercials for something that can be determined instantly. Don’t deprive us of that please.

  15. Football is just a slower paced game. It’s not hockey or basketball. They have to choose plays before every snap. They have to work the clock. They have to make substitutions and line up in formations. It’s a mental game as well as physical. The strategy is part of what makes football interesting, and it’s why football seems slow by 2018 standards. I think they could cut down on commercials and replay stoppages, but the pace of the actual game is fine in my opinion.

  16. Vince McMahon could save himself a lot of money if he started the clock on his games right now. Call every game a tie and move on.

  17. I will watch the XFL games because I love football. Length of games was never my concern. I even like the clock stopping on getting 1st downs for moving the markers. A moving clock lessens the number of plays and too many games will be lost by “time ran out”.

    Just play football, no gimmicky rules that favor offense or defense, no silly penalties like a push in the back which is called on 98% of all kicking returns, and no rules that favor a sissy-fying of the game.

  18. A running clock will speed up the game, but in a negative way. There will be less plays on the field.

    It’s the commercials that cause games to be longer.

    Also, don’t agree with the no kicking of extra points idea. I think that changes the game TOO much. And I definitely don’t agree with the kicking team not being able to run until the receiving team catches the ball. This almost guarantees that the return team will get a 30 plus yard return. Too much of an advantage in my opinion.

    Shame, I was excited for this especially since one of the teams is going to be in my town.

  19. “No one is going to watch the XFL.”
    “Too bad the league wont last more than a year.”
    “that’s stupid, it completely changes the game strategically. so gimmicky …”

    I remember people saying the exact same things about the Arena Football League. I think some people are born complainers. Some of the same people complaining here are the ones complaining the NFL needs to change. I’m sure some of these things won’t pan out, but at least they are trying. They are listening to fans, so why not just sit back and let it play out. I’ll watch.

  20. The point of the XFL isn’t to compete but to bring an alternative that people might enjoy so why not give it a shot?

    That’s what point was with XFL version 1 and it failed miserably. If any alternate football league is going to make it they either have to compete with the NFL (have enough funding to get top-quality, known players) or become an alternate for college football and a farm system for the NFL (like overseas basketball leagues).

  21. Excited about the XFL. So far, they’ve done things right. These rules are fun and will make their brand of football distinctive. I like that they are landing in big TV markets where football fanbases exist; it makes sense in so many ways that the layman complaining from Sheboygan that his town didn’t get a team won’t understand. They just need to absolutely nail it with the team identities and uniforms so that their teams become instantly iconic. I feel the AAF didn’t do as well in this category, and it will hurt them. It’s all about branding, and Vince McMahon knows how to do it.

  22. xli2006 says:
    December 7, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Meanwhile, an NFL Game lasts roughly 3 hrs 15 mins.

    Only 11-12 minutes of that time is actual Gameplay (that includes special teams plays which are often longer than most standard plays PLUS the 15-20 plays resulting in penalties).

    Around 65+ minutes are taken up by Commercials.

    There is literally more Halftime than there is actual game, let alone 6-7x more Commercials than Gameplay.

    Fans, sorry to break it to you but you’re getting played and most don’t even know it.
    ————————————————————————————
    Do you understand that NFL players need some rest between plays?

  23. Yeah, because if I pay $300 to go to a game, I want it over as quickly as possible. I guess you have to play into the short attention span of the American public.

  24. Heres another fantastic idea. ALL kickers have to be men OVER 55 years old and out of shape. Imagine the game is on the line with 1 sec left and Peter Griffin comes out to try a game winning 30 yard FG? Awesome!!!

  25. Seems like shortening the play clock would do the same thing while keeping the amount of actual plays the same as it is now. A running clock will mean a significant smaller number of plays and likely less scoring because of that.

  26. Pretty sure a running clock will not equal more plays…

    This thing is going to be a huge disaster. I was a fan the first time around but I hate everything they plan on doing this time around.

  27. Unless they are able to get some compelling or known players, I can’t imagine there be any interest level in this.

    It’d be like watching Div. III football where u don;t know a single player, and unless you attended that school or have a kid on the team have no vested interest in watching it.

  28. The NFL will do this, but make sure there is still 5,000 tv timeouts. Then proudly beat its chest when games are around 2:45,but 15-20 less plays per game. What cracks me up, any uninterrupted drive of over 6 plays….defenses are wheezing and out of breath…….so someone lays down on the field with a cramp.

  29. the game is only slow because of commercial time outs. during a series, the play clock is perfectly fine at 40 seconds. no need to speed up one snap to the next at all.

  30. I would think the owners of XFL and NFL would want to expand the times of the games a little. The die hards are locked in and it would provide more commercials.

  31. The purpose of stopping the clock during an incomplete pass is to allow the downfield players who might have just ran a mile or two (figuratively) enough time to gather themselves and come back to the line.

    In other words the XFL just took away the downfield pass and the hurry up offense just so the game ends sooner with 13 – 8 final scores because they tried to make up for the lack of exciting plays with making the extra point the thing that wins or loses a game for a team.

  32. NFL games have roughly 30-35 mins of actual gameplay. Any who has watched NFL Sunday Ticket game replays would know this. They cut all BS out and only show the plays. I’m not sure where you’re getting 11-12.

    If the XFL fails it’s literally no money out of your pocket. If it’s a success then we have something to fill the gap of the off season. I never watched the first version. I’m looking forward to watching this one

  33. Just adopt a 20 second play clock like the CFL. There’s a faster pace to the game and the end of each half is much more interesting as it’s more difficult to just run out the clock.

  34. Despite what I think about Vince MacMahon, it’s hard to root against this venture. I have to commend their vision and wisdom in taking the “whole” from all other football league models and making their own. Hopefully, they will not become ‘ingrown” as the NFL has become. It’s hard to ‘compliment’ or even replace an institution, but if that institution takes their success for granted, then new ventures like the XFL have a chance to succeed. I’ll be keeping tabs on this for sure…

  35. I am just curious if they will also be handing out red and yellow cards during the game and have penalty shoot out with field goals to break a tie.

  36. I guess they don’t want any 4th quarter comebacks. Taking just one famous example, the Patriots never come back and beat the Falcons if there’d been a running clock up until the 2-minute warning.

  37. We’ll see how it all plays out. Personally, I’m all for the XFL since it’s football during the off-season. It isn’t the NFL so it’s pointless to think of the product being like the NFL. It’s gonna be something you occaisaonlly watch on tv, put on for a few plays while you do other things or if you need some background noise. Hopefully it provides a few big plays and highlights for cheap entertainment.

  38. Have to have a good laugh at all the commenters who think the XFL will give them old school football from the 60s and 70s. Hate to break your magical thinking but player safety will still be the same issue in this league like every other professional and collegiate league. If the XFL thinks it is going to be an outlier then there is a Congressional Committee hearing that Vince McMahon will have to attend will digesting the idea of Federal government legislation.

  39. “Around 65+ minutes are taken up by Commercials”

    This is absolutely true. When I record a game and fast forward through commercials and halftime, I’m able to cut the time of the game by at least one-third.

  40. Anthony Barry, sorry but NO an NFL game does NOT have 30-35 minutes of gameplay. Or 27 minutes like somebody else mentioned or whatever number anyone else would like to make up.

    An “NFL game only has 11 minutes of action” – WSJ

    “The Super Bowl only had 12:06 minutes of play” – CBS (in reference to the 2015 SB)

    “Just over 11 minutes of competition in an average NFL game” – SportsGrid

    SportsGrid also pointed out that there is on average 35 minutes of camera shots of the Crowd/Coach/Cheerleaders and 67 minutes of players just standing around, huddling, or lining up. Together that is nearly 1hr 40 mins of random non game images. That’s a ton of time to waste watching nothing if you think about it.

    There are nearly 70 minutes of Commercials actually (69.8 minutes) according to FiveThirtyEight.

  41. The last actual non-NFL league that was semi decent for what is was, the USFL and Trump killed it with his ego thinkin’ that he alone could take down the NFL.
    BTW this isn’t fake news, this is FACT.

  42. xli2006 says:
    December 7, 2018 at 3:42 pm
    Anthony Barry, sorry but NO an NFL game does NOT have 30-35 minutes of gameplay. Or 27 minutes like somebody else mentioned or whatever number anyone else would like to make up.

    An “NFL game only has 11 minutes of action” – WSJ

    “The Super Bowl only had 12:06 minutes of play” – CBS (in reference to the 2015 SB)

    “Just over 11 minutes of competition in an average NFL game” – SportsGrid

    SportsGrid also pointed out that there is on average 35 minutes of camera shots of the Crowd/Coach/Cheerleaders and 67 minutes of players just standing around, huddling, or lining up. Together that is nearly 1hr 40 mins of random non game images. That’s a ton of time to waste watching nothing if you think about it.

    There are nearly 70 minutes of Commercials actually (69.8 minutes) according to FiveThirtyEight.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    OK, so there isn’t but 11 minutes of action in a game. And the “average” game lasts about 3.25 hours, or 195 minutes. So subtract the 70 minutes of advertising, that leaves 125 minutes, or about 2 hours, of non-stop endless babbling from the game’s announcers, officiating experts, and mind-numbing drivel during the endless “replay reviews” that occur once or twice every drive.

    I don’t see what anyone has to complain about. It’s a perfectly good product.

  43. This is absolutely a dumb, dumb rule. So the clock keeps running when a player runs out of bounds or an incomplete pass. This kinda bursts my bubble as far as looking forward to the XFL, but I’ll still peek my head to see it. I’m glad my city has an AAF team.

    If they wanted to shorten the game the solution is simple: have 12 minute quarters. Fans will tune in for that, and it will end in two and a half hours.

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