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What Rule Changes Could Happen in 2014?

Posted Mar 20, 2014

Intro: On a Wednesday conference call, the Competition Committee announced proposals of 13 rule changes that will be discussed at next week’s League Meetings. What do fans think of the proposals?



INDIANAPOLIS – The Annual NFL League Meetings will take place in Orlando next week and several topics will be discussed.

In and effort to always try and improve the game of football, 13 rule changes, seven bylaw changes and one resolution have been proposed by the NFL Competition Committee.

NFL.com broke down the rule changes and I offered my opinion on the proposals.

1. As expected, the NFL will consider adding a new layer to replay reviews. The owners will discuss allowing a referee to consult with the NFL officiating department in New York during reviews. The hope is to increase accuracy on calls and speed. The ref would speak with the command center, who will have already started to view the play after it was challenged.

We expect this proposal has a strong chance of passing.

Bowen's Analysis:
This seems like a brilliant idea and would alleviate some of the stress off of officials having to go under the booth. As long as the time of reviews doesn’t increase significantly, I’m all for this rule being passed.

2. The New England Patriots proposed raising the goal posts five feet. This one seems like a no-brainer, but it was proposed by a team, not the committee. That means it inherently will have a more difficult time passing because we don't know the league-wide support for the measure.

Fourteen of the 21 changes mentioned above came from NFL teams. (With New England and the Washington Redskins contributing 12 of them combined.)

Bowen's Analysis
:
Again, this should make officials jobs easier in trying to decipher whether or not field goals made it inside the uprights.

3. The Patriots also proposed moving the extra point back to the 25-yard line. This will start the discussion, but it sounds like a long shot. Teams would continue to have the option to go for a two-point conversion from the two-yard line.

The committee supports a less radical idea. They want to move PATs to the 20-yard line during one week of preseason action in 2014. This softer change has a much better chance of becoming a reality this summer, then the league could evaluate how it worked.

Bowen's Analysis
:
I tend to side with the competition committee here in taking baby steps before this rule is passed. Any move of the extra point would create more strategy in deciding how to approach extra points.

4. The Redskins proposed moving kickoffs to the 40-yard line. That would increase the amount of touchbacks even higher. Our instinct: This is a long shot.

Bowen's Analysis: With so many kickoffs already resulting in touchbacks or returns from at least five yards deep, this rule would be another step closer to improving safety on one of the game’s most dangerous plays.

5. The committee proposed what would amount to the NaVorro Bowman Rule. The league wants to be able to review the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play. (This stems from the NFC Championship Game.)

Bowen's Analysis: This seems pretty common sense to me especially considering the impact the Bowman play could have had in the NFC Championship game.

6. The Patriots proposed allowing a coach to challenge any decisions from officials, while the Redskins proposed being able to review personal fouls. New England's proposal is far-fetched because it would slow down the game. Perhaps Washington's idea could gain some traction.

Bowen's Analysis: Again, timing is the biggest question to me regarding the number of challenges. With unlimited challenges, I could see coaches throwing the challenge flag strictly to slow down momentum. Washington’s idea is a little more feasible and falls in a similar line to the review of “targeting” plays in college football. 

7. The Redskins also proposed eliminating overtime in the preseason. Who wouldn't be for that?

Bowen's Analysis: For the most part, you see coaches go for two late in preseason games to avoid overtimes. Certainly this rule would take care of any of those dreaded extra periods in August.

8. Bill Belichick often has talked about the lack of cameras on the goal line in NFL stadiums to review potential touchdowns. The Patriots proposed putting a camera on all six boundary lines: two sidelines, two goal lines and two end lines. The idea would be to have sufficient camera coverage for all replay reviews.

Bowen's Analysis: This seems to make a lot of sense to me especially with the amount of bodies that are piled up on goal line plays. If it helps to get such a crucial play right, then I’m all for it.

9. The committee proposed that the clock should run after all sacks.

Bowen's Analysis: Agreed. It’s like a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on a running play. The offense should not have the clock stopped for an unsuccessful play.

10. There were also a number of interesting bylaw proposals from the Redskins and the committee. The most interesting: raising the number of active players on game day from 46 to 49 when teams play on Thursday (or Saturday), excluding Week 1.

Bowen's Analysis: This might also be the most interesting proposal to me. This falls under the safety category and I see little harm in doing this for teams coming off short weeks.

11. Other roster adjustment proposals: raising the practice squad limit to 10 and allowing more than one player per team to return from injured reserve to the active roster. Essentially the second proposal suggests that any player could return from injured reserve after six weeks.

Bowen's Analysis: Don’t really have a strong opinion on this one. It gets three more young guys inside an NFL locker room and with the amount of injured reserve guys we see each year, I think most people would be in favor of the IR rule.

12. One proposal would allow teams to trade players prior to the start of the league year in March.

Bowen's Analysis: Again, don’t really have an opinion on this one either. I don’t see how significant this rule change would be for personnel departments.

13. The Redskins proposed cutting down final rosters from 90 players in training camp right to the 53-man roster. That would eliminate the first camp cut down from 90 to 75.

Bowen's Analysis: Personally, I think the cut down to 75 gives personnel department a more detailed look at those final few roster spots during the last preseason game. I like how the cut down process is currently structured.

14. The Indianapolis Colts proposed allowing a team to open or close their roof at halftime of a game.

Bowen's Analysis: This seems to be more of a fan experience rule and it will be interesting to see how owners without retractable roofs view this proposal.

15. The committee continues to support expanding the playoffs, but that's not going to be voted on next week. And while the league will focus on preventing taunting, there will be no new rule that limits the used of the N-word.

Bowen's Analysis: These rule changes received a lot of headlines in the offseason but it sounds like any concrete decisions won’t come until 2015.

There were a few more rules proposals related to pass interference and player safety that essentially just cleaned up and clarified previous rules. For those rules and a breakdown of all the player safety implications, head over to our friends at NFL Evolution.
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