With a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, the NFL as we know it is about to undergo some significant changes. Instead of speculating on what will occur, I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss what I would like to see if I had my way. In the comments section below, feel free to suggest the changes you'd make if you could.
The type of changes we'll discuss fall under three separate categories. Any rules on how the game is played or officiated are handled by the competition committee. Typically events and their scheduling/marketing are handled by NFL Corporate. Everything revenue related and work related is negotiated through the CBA by players and owners.
This will be a three part series. The first installment discusses rules or procedures governed by the competition committee.
Rule or Procedure Changes Under the Competition Committee
1. Replay - The NFL should take a cue from the NCAA. Of all the things college football does wrong, the one thing it has right is replay. Let NFL coaches keep their ability to challenge a play, but give officials in the media box a chance to stop play and review anything that looks questionable. Many of the best officials are forced into retirement because they can no longer run up and down the field. Take these experienced officials and put them in the media booth where they have all the views (officials in the "booth" on a sideline only get a handful of views, many times they don't see what we see at home). The NFL already has the perfect men for the job.
2. Overtime - Here's a revolutionary idea: instead of playing for overtime, make all 60 minutes count. Whatever field position you earned during the first four quarters - you keep. Instead of flipping a coin, teams continue playing where they left off in the previous period. Everything that was relevant before is still relevant. Everything counts. No more taking a knee to go to overtime, no more "prevent" defense, no more worrying who will win the toss, no more lame rules ensuring an unfair advantage. If you stopped a team and were about to get good field position, or if you were driving for that score, all your work still counts.
3. Overtime: Part II - Whatever rules the NFL enforces should be universal - both during the regular and post season.
4. Interpretation and Enforcement of Rules - If a defender's hand inadvertently grazes a QB's helmet, that is not a 15 yard personal foul. Use common sense. We can list example after example of such circumstances where officials throw the flag on a technicality that doesn't mesh with the intent of the rule.
5. Fairness - The competition committee just passed a rule preventing defenders from leaving their feet to make a tackle. I agree with enforcing rules meant to keep players safe. However, if a defender can't launch himself into a ball carrier, the ball carrier shouldn't be able to leave his feet to dive either. If a ball carrier can leap over an offensive line into the endzone, or dive for that first down, the defender should have the same abilities. Likewise, if a ball carrier can stiff arm a defender in the face/helmet/facemask area, defenders shouldn't be penalized for the same action. If a running back can put his head down and bust through a hole leading with his head, defenders should be able to do the same thing.
6. Language of Rules - The NFL rulebook is written by lawyers. Just kidding, but you'd swear it was if you read it. In an attempt to define the gray area, more is created. If 50 fans in a bar see a player make a catch and all believe it is a catch, language in a rule shouldn't exist that prevents it from being a catch. Remember the Calvin Johnson play?
7. Pass Interference - I think a distinction should be made on the severity/intent. There should be a spot foul to prevent blatant interference, but there should also exist a 10 or 15 yard variety for less intentional fouls. If an illgal hands to the face or illegal contact occurs on a passing play, it should be just a 5 yard penalty, not an automatic first down.
8. Turnovers - Remember the interception of Eli Manning that was called back because of a roughing the passer? That had nothing to do with the interception. The correct action should have been a penalty to the Saints field position from the point the ball is intercepted, not a reversal of a turnover the penalty didn't impact.
9. Motion - Want to continue the trend of more scores and more excitement? Allow more motion in the backfield. As long as you are behind the line of scrimmage, you should be able to move all skill players in any manner you like. The defense can do as they wish, so why can't the offense?
10. Field Goals - 50-yard field goals should be worth 4 points. Just sayin'.