The NFL recently announced 15 proposed rule changes that will be voted on during the NFL's Annual Meeting from March 26-29 in Phoenix, Arizona. Here is the full list of all the proposals. From this list comes some interesting suggestions as the league looks for ways to improve the rules of the game. Here are a few examples and how they could impact the Cowboys going forward.
To start with, there are a couple pilot-tested rules that were implemented last season on a trial bases.
Rule Change: Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
The NFL created their own version of the NBA’s “two technical fouls = ejection” by incorporating a rule that now will eject players who receive two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. These types of fouls are specific in nature and have to fall into one of the following groups:
(a) Throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made.
(b) Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the League.
(c) Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.
We have Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman to thank for this one after their childish antics in 2015 forced the league to take action. During a Redskins/Giants match up, both players kept going after each other accruing a slew of penalties, however, without a threat of ejection they were allowed to continue to act out.
Well, that is no more. Two fouls and you’re done. There were two players who managed to get themselves bounced last year - Travis Kelce of the Chiefs, and Weston Richburg of the Giants (which coincidentally involved another OBJ and Norman battle).
The Cowboys only had two unsportsmanlike penalties last year and neither were of the poor conduct nature that falls in the group of ejection. Ezekiel Elliott got penalized for an illegal celebration when he jumped in the Salvation Army kettle and Brice Butler got penalized for not being able to make up his mind if he belonged in the huddle. It’s great that neither of these met the criteria towards earning an ejection, but it would even be better if they weren’t a penalty at all.
The Cowboys did have one player ejected when David Irving got caught in a scrum with Browns’ center Cam Erving. From what we all saw in the replay, it looked like Irving got the raw end of the deal as the Browns’ Erving was the player who was ripping off helmets and throwing them at people.
Rule Change: Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
This is another one that was on a trial basis last year. One concern with this change is that teams might try to pooch kick it, short of the goal line, and force teams to run it out. Such an event would defeat the purpose of trying to reduce kickoff returns. This wasn’t a strategy many employed. Even when kicks were on the front end of the goal line, returners opted to take a knee many times as the extra five yard advantage was just too good to pass up. The plan has seemed to work and this rule should go permanent now.
Last year, Lucky Whitehead showed improved judgment when making his return decisions and Dan Bailey has a good feel for where the ball needs to be kicked. At times, he will tempt people.
Rule Change: Amends the challenge system by granting a third challenge if a club is successful on AT LEAST ONE of its initial two challenges.
Instant replay has been great for the game. So many calls are made right these days and that has added a lot to the integrity of the game. And since coaches in the booth have a quick access to replays, it adds a higher success rate for those moments the red challenge flag is hurled onto the field. But as much improved as it is, it still has one flaw - conclusive evidence. There are some instances where despite what we all think really happened, the camera just doesn’t provide the correct angle to prove it. And in those instances, the call on the field stands. And because this element exists, changing the rule to allow two unsuccessful challenges before they run out makes sense.
The Cowboys haven’t been so reckless with their challenges to where it’s came back to bite them so this hasn’t been an issue so far. But the goal is to get the call right and adding another chance to right a wrong is the correct thing to do.
Rule Change: Reduces the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.
I’m not sure the logic behind this one. The last thing fans want is to see is a game end in a tie and shortening the overtime quarter increases the chances of that happening. This is a terrible suggestion.
As it pertains to the Cowboys, it’s really a non-issue. The Cowboys have had five overtime games over the last three seasons. Three of them have ended on the games first drive and the other two ended on the second drive. The shortened quarter wouldn’t have come into play for Dallas. I’ve never witnessed a Cowboys game end in a tie. And if you’re close to my age or younger, you haven’t either because it’s been 47 years since a Cowboys game has finished in a tie.
Rule Change: Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
Every once in a while you’ll get some weird rule that fans will ask “what is the reasoning behind that?” And sometimes that answer is “because someone has tried to exploit it.” Everyone called John Harbaugh a genius for instructing everyone on the line to hold so his punter could meander about for 11 seconds, running the remaining time off the clock.
Was it shady? Perhaps. But last year it was legal. The NFL looks to be doing their part to eliminate such silliness from happening again.
And here is one proposed by the Washington Redskins...
Rule Change: Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
I could only imagine that this one came about at the end of a very long discussion session and after throwing back several drinks. Thanks Washington for taking this rules thing seriously.
What do you think about these proposed changes? Is there anything you’d like to see the NFL change that would make the game better?