The NFL game is constantly evolving. That mainly happens through the introduction of new rules. March 23rd through the 26th, the league has its annual meeting, and the owners will vote on the Competition Committee's proposed rule changes and new bylaws. Here are the proposals up for a vote, per Pro Football Talk and Football Zebras. Plus maybe an opinion or two about them.
PROPOSED RULE CHANGES
1. Change the kickoff to the 40 yard line. This is in line with the feeling that there are too many injuries on kickoffs, and the league would rather they go away. Given the range of most NFL kickers, this would come close to accomplishing that.
2. Allow for personal foul penalties to be reviewed by instant replay. This would perhaps help with phantom horsecollar tackles and the like. Look, anything that would increase the chance for objectivity should appeal to any Dallas Cowboys fan. (And probably to all the whiny fans of teams not called the Cowboys out there, too.)
3. Get rid of overtime in preseason games. If this does not pass, mandatory senility tests should be administered to any owners who vote against it.
4. Make the goal posts five yards higher. Heck, why not run them all the way to the roof in domed stadiums? At least in those venues, there would be absolutely no question if a kick was good or not.
5. Snap extra point kick attempts from the 25 yard line, with 2 point attempts still made from the 2. This would make Jerry Jones look so smart for having signed Dan "Split 'em" Bailey to a new deal. John Mara is organizing the opposition to this as you read. One question that is a bit unclear to me is whether the team could still try to convert for 2 if they botch the kick. I'd also like to see a blocked kick returned all the way give 1 point to the defense, just so that there could finally be a way for an NFL team to have a 1 up on the scoreboard. But I am known to be odd.
6. Add six cameras in each stadium for each boundary line - sidelines, goal lines, and back end zone lines - to provide clear coverage for instant replay. All I can ask is, why this wasn't done the day the league first started using instant replay?
7. Permit the challenge of any official's decision except scoring plays (automatically reviewed already). This one could be a problem, after some of the games last season. What are the teams going to do after they use up all their reviews in the first five minutes?
8. Expand the definition of an illegal "roll up" block to include the side of the leg as well as the back. Just a sensible change given the huge investment the teams have in the players.
9. Add an official from league headquarters to the review on field. This is one that inspires some mixed emotions. During a review, the official could contact the league officiating department in New York. From the results last year, the on field crews can use some help, but how long will this take? With the increased mandatory reviews, this could really make the game drag out. But it would be really fun to find out which officials get overruled the most.
10. Reorganize the section of the rules on what can and cannot be reviewed, including making the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play reviewable. The last part is a direct response to the Navarro Bowman incident in the NFC Championship Game, and is long overdue.
11. Keep the clock running on a quarterback sack. Treat the quarterback more like a regular football player! Plus it helps make up for all that time the zebras are going to be reviewing extra stuff and calling home for advice.
12. Enforce pass interference from the line of scrimmage (no more 1 yard "pick zone"). Don't touch the receivers, unless you play for the Seattle defense.
13. Defensive penalties behind the line of scrimmage to be enforced from previous spot rather than spot of foul. The idea is to simplify the spot rules on penalties. Now if they'd just do the same with pass interference . . .
1. Raise the game day active roster to 49 from 46 for games played on any day besides Sunday or Monday, except for the first game of the season. Basically, this is to help teams playing on Thursday during the season. It tries to make up for having a short week to heal up from the previous game.
2. Change the practice squad from 8 to 10 players. Heck, yes! More bodies for practice, plus two more potential replacements during the season, and 64 players get to be a little closer to their dream of being in the NFL. Only the absolute skinflints would object to this. Wait. This may be a closer vote than I was thinking.
3. Allow player trades before the start of the league year. Given how little the NFL engages in trades in the free agency era, I don't see that this really makes a great deal of difference. Maybe it will stir things up a teensy bit?
4. Drop the cut down to 75 in training camp. There would just be one cut from 90 to the 53 man roster. I object strongly! The cut to 75 was good for at least half a dozen posts! Otherwise, it just lets 15 guys earn a few more dollars, and I can't imagine even the skinflints objecting to such a small amount. It also has a real benefit in reducing the wear and tear on the players you want to keep. ("OK, all out pass rush drills. Starters on defense, camp bodies . . . I mean, third team offensive line, get out there.")
5. Allow any players going on injured reserve to return after six weeks. Can I get a "HELL, YES" from the audience? With the number of injuries across the league, this seems so obvious a move to make. It might have made a difference for a couple of Cowboys last season. And in the long run, it should protect the players since the decision to IR someone no longer puts their whole season in jeopardy.
6. Let the teams test and time up to ten prospective draftee at their own facility. Other teams would be allowed to attend these testing/timing sessions. Oh, please let this go through. I will pay to be in the Patriots facility to watch the agony on Bill Belichick's face at having other teams there. Although, come to think of it, he may never participate in this if it is approved.
7. Change the time to make the final cutdown to the 53 man roster from 6 pm ET on the designated day to 4 pm ET. Now we get to the important stuff! The future of professional football, sports in general, and the very survival of humankind hinge on this!
Allow teams with a retractable roof to open or close the roof at halftime. This makes too much sense.
Notably lacking from the proposals is any new rule on the use of racial or other slurs. The decision at this point is to use the current taunting rules to crack down on that, which makes sense. There is also reportedly a proposal to do the extra-point snap from the 20 for one pre-season game this year, which I suppose is to see how that compares with the 25 yard line snap.
Any changes to the number of playoff teams will not happen until 2015 at the earliest, although it is supposed to be a topic for discussion at the meetings next week.
In the past, I believe that most of the proposals that make it out of the Competition Committee wind up getting approved, so this should give you an idea of what changes are coming. I actually like most of them. But that's my opinion. Give us yours in the comments.