Takeaways: Proposal for New Rule Changes

Takeaways: Proposal for New Rule Changes

Jay Adams

Published March 22, 2012 at 3:27 PM

The NFL world has clamored over a couple of bits of news in the past couple of days that have overshadowed anything else going on in the free world. Perhaps in all the noise that occurred Wednesday, you missed the 2012 edition of the Competition Committee’s rule change proposals.

If you recall last year, the biggest news to come out of those recommendations was the passing of the rule to change the kickoff from the 30-yard line to the 35, thus encouraging more touchbacks and fewer returns.

Competition Committee chairman — and, by the way, Falcons president and CEO — Rich McKay held a conference call with the media Wednesday, amid all the Tebowmania and Bountygate hubbub, to discuss the proposals and what they could mean for the NFL in 2012. The owners will vote on all the proposals during their annual meetings next week.

Click here to read the entire transcript of McKay’s conference call.

Here are three of the biggest takeaways from McKay’s comments.

1. Instant Replay could change dramatically
Currently, when a coach throws a challenge flag or the booth calls for a replay when the game is under two minutes in either the second or fourth quarter, the head referee heads over to the replay monitor, disappears into what looks like a voting booth and looks over the play in question from every angle imaginable. After getting a satisfactory handle of what happened, he will trot back onto the field and announce his decision based on what he saw from the replays. A current proposal, put forth by Buffalo, would take that authority from the head referee and place it solely in the hands of the replay official in the booth. McKay surmised that Buffalo felt the current system doesn’t allow for the most efficient review of the play, meaning putting the control in the hands of the replay official would speed up the process. Said McKay: “The thing about our system is we developed our system based on our experience the last time. In other words, when we were in, I guess, ’86 to ’92 or whatever it was that we had the old system of replay — that’s how we developed the idea that the referee would be the decision maker because we felt like he had the best ability to one, talk to the on-field official and two, have complete command of the rules and the application of the them.”

2. Quarterbacks won’t get more protection
Former NFL head coach and analyst John Madden recently spoke out about the rough rules as they apply to the quarterback. Madden suggested that the NFL should adopt the same roughing rules for the quarterbacks that apply to kickers and punters, meaning as soon as the ball leaves the quarterback’s hands, any touching of the quarterback would be considered roughing and subject to a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down. McKay said the committee visits quarterback hits every year and the committee feels comfortable with the rules as they stand right now: “And so we have not moved to that point. It does not mean as a league we will not down the road, but I don’t see us doing it in the near term,” McKay said.

3. Postseason overtime rules could be in play during the regular season
You may recall in early January when Tim Tebow pulled off some more magic, playing in the first NFL postseason overtime game since new rules were instituted, beating Pittsburgh on the first play of the extra period. Last year, the NFL put in place a new postseason overtime system in which both teams were virtually guaranteed one possession in overtime as opposed to just sudden death — meaning the first team to score wins. The one and only exception to that rule, however, is if the receiving team scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Considering all that Tebow pulled off last season, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he found receiver Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of that overtime period. As of today, we haven’t seen a full on-field demonstration of the new overtime rules (you can read more about them here), but a proposal the owners will be voting on next week would extend the new format to the regular season. “What the coaches’ feeling was, and dealing with the coaches sub-committee certainly supports the change to the regular season also – strategically they like to prepare the same way in the regular season that they do in the postseason, and they really don’t want to have different rules and have to change their approach to overtime,” McKay said.

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