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NFL Competition Committee Proposes Several Rule Changes For 2012 Season

Rich McKay heads up the Competition Committee
Rich McKay heads up the Competition Committee

As the owner meetings kick off and the national media is mesmerized by a back up Jets quarterback and the Cowboys world is focused on retribution for ills performed by Roger Goodell and John Mara, there is plenty of league business going on.

One of the main items that comes out of the spring owner's meetings is the formulation of the initial proposal of NFL rule changes. Team officials spent the entire year evaluating last season's rule changes or stewing over proposals thought to be worthy that were turned down. Rich McKay, President and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons addressed the media about the major rule changes that will go to discussion and subsequently voted upon by the league.

The points of emphasis that were presented to the coaches this morning and then will be presented to the owners tomorrow, will be voted on on Wednesday. I am searching for confirmation whether that will be a preliminary vote or whether it will be final.

Instant Replay Changes

Instant Replay will now be handled by an official in the booth, not the on-field referee. Also on the table, all turnovers would be auto-reviewed just like all scoring plays. The competition committee thinks this will speed up the game, as coaches often wait until after a commercial break to challenge a turnover. In their study, auto-reviewing scoring plays added only one second to the average time of games, and reduced the total number of coaching challenges used.

Functional / Roster Changes

Trade deadline moved back from week six to week eight, giving teams more time to see where they stand in the playoff race and decide if they want to collect talent, purge or stay put.

Teams will be allowed to bring a player off of Injured Reserve after eight weeks, if that player was on the roster in week one. Rich McKay seemed to indicate that this was going to be limited to a star player, but the NFL Network graphic made it appear that it could be used multiple times. I'll continue to look for confirmation. The player will be able to practice after six weeks.

Follow the jump for more.

Functional / Roster Changes (cont.)

Gives team ability to add to inactive roster, from 53 to 54, inactive roster spot for a player with a concussion.

Change offseason roster size to 90 players. Last year was a temp rule that allowed 90, but normally the roster limit is at 80. Unsigned drafted players will count (hadn't before).

In-Game Changes

Pittsburgh has proposed to do away with the horse collar rule on QBs who are still in the pocket. Pittsburgh is also asking postseason OT rule be put into regular season, essentially ending sudden-death field goal situations.

Illegal kicking of loose ball to delay game would cause loss of down in addition to a 10-yard penalty.

Too many men on field is delay of game, dead-ball foul. Currently, if a defense lines up with too many men on the field (a la Giants in the SB) the clock continues to run and the five-yard penalty doesn't do much to assist the offense. No more.

Expanding crackback protection, giving that player complete defenseless player protection. Now, you can't block him in the head, with your head or block him low.


McKay did spend some time noting the effects of last year's kickoff rule changes. Returns were down to about 53%. Average starting field position dropped from the 27 to the 23, but it didn't affect scoring or offensive field position. Overall field position throughout the game was affected by about a yard and a half. There was a 40% reduction of concussions.

You may now resume your regularly scheduled witch-hunt for the return of the Cowboys $10 million of cap space at the owner's meeting.

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