NFL owners meet this week

These are the slow news days for the Cowboys, free agency doesn't appear to hold anymore interest for the `Boys. The draft is coming up but as is typical of NFL teams, and even moreso for the notoriously slient "Parcells Regime", no one wants to tip their hand as to the players they are interested in.

The big event for the NFL owners is their annual meeting, which takes place this week, and this year they need to pick a new commisioner. This isn't expected to be a quick process and could drag on for months. But they are looking at some more immediate issues, mainly around penalties, instant replay and the playoff format.

Mickey Spags gives us a preview of what will be on the agenda.   

Certain also to grab attention over the next three days will be a couple of rule change proposals: Prohibiting low hits on quarterbacks in the pocket, better protecting the deep snapper on place kicks, prohibiting the punting team from blocking in the back during coverage, broadening the horse-collar tackle to include grabbing the jersey from behind, too, and allowing eligible receivers to flinch and reset without a false start immediately being called if the action does not induce the defense to jump off sides.

I don't like the idea of adding more special protections for the QB. Yes, he's the most important player on the field and losing him to injury radically alters the competitiveness of a game. But this is still tackle football, and part of the game is balancing the risk of dropping back to pass for a big gain against all the problems associated with that; sacks, fumbles, interceptions, etc. It won't be long before the defense will have players not making plays on the QB because they fear a 15-yard penalty. I believe the balance struck by the current rules is sufficient.

As for letting a receiver's "flinch" go without a false-start penalty, I think I could learn to live with this one. It will freak me out for about half a season, but eventually I will get used to it. If it has no bearing on the play, is it worth calling? Probably not.

I've never liked the horse-collar rule and still don't. The fact they're thinking of expanding it, or at least enforcing it as presently written, stinks.

Also, the competition committee, co-chaired by McKay and Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher, will propose allowing one designated player on defense to have headset communication with the sideline, just as currently is in place for quarterbacks.

I've always thought that this was something that needed to be done. Why does the offense get to send in the signals through a headset while the defense relies on old-fashioned hand signals? There is one problem though; the QB is always on the field, on defense the players are changed depending on the defensive formation. I'm sure someone smarter than me can figure out a good solution for this.

They are also going to discuss expanding the playoff pool.

And as has been the case over the past couple of years, Kansas City will propose expanding the playoffs from 12 teams to 14 teams, which might fall on fewer deaf ears since the AFC's sixth-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers won Super Bowl XL in February. The wild-card Steelers run also will encourage discussion of not automatically awarding division winners higher seeds if they do not have a better record than wild-card teams.

I'm not crazy about expanding the number of teams that make the playoffs, I don't want to become like hockey where half the teams make the playoffs. I think it dilutes the importance of the regular season games. But the seeding for home-field advantage is something I would like to see changed. It makes no sense to send an 11-5 team that came in second in its divison on the road to play a 9-7 team just because the 9-7 team won its division. It's not the fault of the 11-5 team that they play in a tough division while the 9-7 team plays in a crappy one. Seed teams by their records, the ones with the better records have earned it.

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