One of the events on the NFL's offseason calendar is the review of the league's rules by the Competition Committee. On Wednesday, a report describing the rules changes that were proposed by various NFL teams and by that Committee were released. For every suggested change that was presented, there are a few screwball ideas that will likely be shot down instantly.
Here are a few in both categories for your perusal.
Eliminating Challenge Flags
Proposed by New England Patriots
The gist of this suggested change involves doing away with the red challenge flags. The mechanics of the coaches' challenge process would involve the challenging Head Coach calling a timeout instead of throwing a challenge flag, then informing the referee of his desire to review the previous play.
The other change here involves the two-minute rule - coaches would also be allowed to challenge plays inside of the last two minutes of each half and in overtime, in addition to booth reviews.
Our Verdict: REASONABLE
This seems okay to me. If a coach tried to challenge a play that cannot be reviewed, they used their timeout to do it and wouldn't get it back. That seems like a decent punishment. Plus, it would do away with ridiculous instances like this:
Expanding Reviewable Plays
Submitted by Several Teams
This submission consists of a few parts. First, plays on which a personal foul penalty are assessed would be subject to review (this was proposed by Tennessee and Washington). A second change from Washington suggested that any penalty which results in an automatic first down could also be reviewed. A third proposal by Indianapolis involved only penalties enforced when a player was deemed to be in a "defenseless posture."
Our verdict: NOT A FAN
At this point, why bother even calling penalties on the field? Go to the replay officials to call everything and slow the game down even more. Maybe there's some shred of validity to some of these in the case of really egregious calls, but how do you have a replay official and Referee overturn something that is often a clear judgment call?
Reviewing Game Clock
Submitted by Tennessee
The Titans suggested that instant replay should be available for a booth review if there was a clock malfunction or other issue that caused a discrepancy of more than one second between an official's signal and the stop of the clock by the clock operator.
Our verdict: NOT CRAZY
We can't imagine this being used often, but it's probably a reasonable precaution against an error by the clock operator.
Reviewing Play Clock
Submitted by Chicago
The Bears want the status of the play clock to be reviewable - in other words, to determine whether the ball was snapped before or after the play clock hits zero, with the possibility of overturning or enforcing a delay of game penalty.
Our verdict: NOT CRAZY
Referees generally seem (at least to me) to give a half-second grace period to offenses when the play clock winds down. That's essentially the amount of time it takes to look up from the ball to the play clock in the stadium. This could affect a critical moment in the game and could overturn a big play that was allowed to go on even though the ball was snapped late. At least the limit of two (or three) challenges would prevent this from being reviewed constantly.
Mounting Fixed Cameras on Critical Field Lines
Submitted by New England
This suggestion involves placing fixed cameras on sidelines, end lines at the back of the end zones, and goal lines to help provide clearer video evidence for replays when those lines are involved.
Our Verdict: DO IT.
Honestly, it's a little absurd that this hasn't been implemented already, whether officially or unofficially. Also, cue up the jokes about New England doing something involving videocameras.
Bonus Extra Point Try after Two-Point Conversion
Submitted by Indianapolis
Here's where we go off the deep end. Not enough two-point conversion attempts in the NFL, you say? Apparently the Colts think that is the case. How about this: if your team scores on a two-point attempt from the two-yard line, it gets to try a 50-yard attempt for a PAT, which would be worth one more point. In other words, touchdowns could be worth anywhere between six and nine points, depending on the nature of the first try attempt and whether it was successful.
Our Verdict: THE COLTS HAVE LOST THEIR BLOODY MINDS
That's pretty much all we want to say about that.
Each Team Gets a Possession in Overtime
Submitted by Chicago
The Bears proposed something that it seems many people want - an opportunity for both teams to possess the ball in all Overtime situations. Currently, that only applies if the first team to possess the ball scores a field goal; this change would remove that.
It would, necessarily, give the advantage to the team possessing the ball second in this scenario. They would know exactly what they needed to do in order to win or at least tie the game.
Our Verdict: BETTER THAN WHAT WE'VE GOT
Well, at least Aaron Rodgers and company would have had one more chance to tie the NFC Championship Game if this were in effect, so that's something.
Only Eligible Receivers Outside the Tackle Box
Submitted by Competition Committee
This one is in direct response to the Patriots' weird formation that confused the Ravens this year. If a player wears a number that marks him as eligible but he reports as an ineligible player, he must line up inside the tackle box, "between the outside edges of the normal tackle positions."
Our Verdict: SURE, WHY NOT
It's sort of but not really a loophole that they're closing here. Players can report as eligible or ineligible if they're numbered differently, as long as they report themselves to the Referee. This just means that this particular formation wouldn't work anymore.
There are a few other minor changes, but these are the ones that most directly affect the play on the field. What do you think? Has Jim Irsay lost his mind? Are the Bears actually the heroes of the NFL for this Overtime suggestion?