NFL’s Spring Meeting Starts Today
It is Spring Break time around the NFL once again, and that means time for the rich and shameless of the NFL to gather in Orlando for the duo purpose of discussing further destruction for the once great game called football while hopefully luring spring breakers into the hot tub.
The rule changes up for consideration this year include the normal mix of the logical and the insane.
Among the proposals is the inevitable yearly expansion of the use of instant replay. I expect that instant replay will continue to metastasize until robots replace the referees. Hell, while we are removing the human element from the game, we might as well replace the players with robots as well. That solves all the player safety issues in one fail swoop.
The owners are considering the use of instant replay for penalties that coaches want to challenge. This, of course, is in response to the debacle in Dallas during the playoffs. Currently, the only penalty that a coach is able to have reviewed is the 12 men on the field call.
Regardless, I consider this just much more of the same. We will end up with more stoppages and convenient commercial breaks in exchange for very few actual correct reversals of poor calls. The NFL has always been loathe to publicly call out its referees, and therefore, I don’t see a lot of calls being overturned regardless of whether you review them or not.
The constant proponents for change New England Patriots have suggested that everything be up for challenge except for the plays already automatically reviewed.
Fortunately, Jeff Fischer, a rules committee member and de facto spokesman, has said that the committee does not support having penalties be reviewable. The obvious argument here is that it puts too much pressure on the coaches to determine what penalties are legitimate and what are not, and that, of course, opens the coaches up for more potential criticism if they don’t challenge the right ones. Since coaches rule the rules committee, yeah, good luck with that.
The committee will also consider giving coaches three challenges instead of two, regardless of whether their challenges are successful or not. That rule change might actually have a chance.
One of the crazier rule changes being considered is a proposal to reward a team making a two point conversion by giving them a bonus attempt at a long extra point. The dual purpose of this proposal is to encourage more two point conversion tries while making a nine point deficit a one possession difference.
I suspect this will go no where. It was proposed by the Indianapolis Colts, who at this point are resembling that young and opinionated cousin who just needs to shut up.
Other proposals include moving the extra point to the 15 yard line. I would like to see it moved to the 20. And of course, guaranteeing that both teams get a possession in overtime. Last season’s Packers would be a fan of that rule. I would make the same argument against it as I did when the OT rules were changed in the first place; the team getting the second possession would have a substantial advantage. Everyone knows the real solution to the overtime is to simply play another period of football, length to be determined, same as every other sport does. Of course, that brings player safety into play, which essentially makes it a nonstarter.
It is likely that expanding the playoffs by another team per conference will also be discussed, though the owners may table that decision until a later meeting. Based off the obvious financial boon of adding another two playoff games versus little voiced dissent, I would consider this change inevitable.
By the way, the NFL is not considering making any changes to the rule regarding what is a catch and what is not. They have said they might change the language, maybe to a language no one understands so that they don’t have to worry about explaining it.