The NFL competition committee will be dissecting several new rule change proposals starting Monday when the NFL owners convene on the city of Palm Beach in Florida. Yes, that is where Miami Dolphins Grand Pooh bah Bill Parcells lives and no, he will not attend the meetings.
Of the rules changes being discussed, some make sense while others seem to be teetering on garbage.
A proposal will allow teams to challenge field goals. After last years Cleveland Brown crossbar field goal this makes sense on a lot of levels. Any coach willing to throw away a challenge on the validity of a field goal…well more power to you. The fact is this rule will not add to the time of the game unless the field goal is truly in question. In reality, this should have been part of what could be reviewed in the first place.
Another rule change effects the free agent market. The NFL is considering the adoption of a dead period of 5 days prior to the start of free agency where teams can talk with prospective free agent players agents. In doing so, the problems with “tampering” should be stemmed. The clubs would not be allowed to speak to any players but could begin work on setting up visits and in all likelihood talking about contracts. The latter of course could drive up prices as more teams would be involved with more players.
The coin toss is something that has always been perplexing. Historically, if you win the coin toss you receive the kick and thus starts the game. The loser of the toss usually gets the ball to start quarter number 3. In college that is not the case where a team winning the coin toss has the option of deferring to the 3rd quarter. The NFL CC is looking into adopting this for the league.
Perhaps the best rule being looked at to change surrounds the playoff seeding. In the past it has always been a simple, win the division and in week 1 you face the two wild card teams in your house. That is great except when a division winner finishes the season at 9-7 and the wild card team finished at 11-5 or 10-6. Now, that wild card team may get to play that division winner at their house. A nod to the best records and not just who finished on top of whom.
A rule change that will make some applaud is a proposal to eliminate the force out rule. This rule basically says that at the discrimination of the referee a player may be ruled in bounds on a reception if it is deemed that he would have come down in bounds had he not been pushed out or “forced” out of bounds. The college level currently uses no force out rule, but their receivers only needs to have one foot in bounds for receptions. Although I think that issues arose last year with several teams, Cleveland in particular, there is good arguments on both sides of this fence. On one hand, your now taking out the element of referee interpretation but on the other hand your giving more play to the defenders who no longer have to try and swipe the ball away and now can simply push a receiver out of bounds. This one should be widely debated. Of course if a defender picks up a player and carries him out of bounds…that will still be considered a force out.
And then there are the rules for the sake of rules:
The first one that comes to mind is the possible change to the face mask penalty. Under consideration is the banning of the 5 yard incidental and the imposition of 15 yards for any infraction. Of course what comes with that is if a minor infraction is overlooked by the refs then who draws the line on whether a simple brush of the mask becomes the 15 yard variety in one game and a no call in another? Better to leave this one the way it is.
Another rule for the sake of change is allowing a defender to wear a headset in his helmet. Sorry, but the QB makes sense when it comes to having an ear piece. A defender doesn’t need to clearly hear “X slot left Y cross dive 43 fly blue 2″ in his ear. Even with the adoption of more in depth signals and defensive play calling, signs still work out well…even if they are being video taped. The point is there is enough questions already surrounding mystery dropped signals, interference, and of course interception. Why not fix those “problems” first before adding another frequency.