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5 Takeaways From The Proposed NFL Rule Changes

Sam Spiegelman

Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.

The NFL owners are reviewing a number of proposed rule changes during the annual meetings taking place in Phoenix this week.

Among the changes being considered are related to player safety,  instant replay, and the extra point. Last year, 13 rule changes were proposed. This time, that number has jumped up to 23.

Here are five takeaways from the most significant proposed rule changes:

1. Longer extra points

The Patriots proposed a longer extra point, one that would be snapped from the 15-yard line that amounts to a 33-yard field goal. Two-point conversion attempts would remain at the 2-yard-line.

The league experimented with longer extra points during last year’s preseason, but of course that did not carry over to the regular season. Sure, an extra point is essentially a given in today’s NFL, but that hasn’t put a damper on the game’s competitiveness whatsoever. Let’s not toy with a good thing.

2. Challenging it all

The Patriots also proposed a coach’s ability to challenge anything except for turnovers and scoring plays, which are already subject to automatic review. This means a coach could challenge certain plays that result in penalties.

The interesting part here is how this will affect pass-interference calls. Throwing up 40-yard bombs downfield to speedy wide receivers and the ensuing flag being thrown on such plays are game-changers. A closer review on the battles between the receivers and defensive backs may extend the game a little bit longer, but allow officials to get a second look to ensure the right call is made.

The Lions proposed a similar rule that would allow coach’s to challenge that a penalty did occur. That may get a bit tricky considering a flag could technically be thrown every single down.

3. Amending the overtime possessions

The Bears proposed that both teams would be granted one possession in overtime. Currently, the rule says that if the first team with the ball scores a touchdown, the game is over.

It’s fair, for sure, placing less importance on the overtime coin toss as opposed to the opening possession. As it stands right now, if the team that gets the ball first doesn’t score, turns it over or settles for a field goal, the opposing team gets the ball anyway.

This makes the game more similar to the college football rule, which has worked for the sport. This one would work out either way, but it’s conceivable owners could become weary about continuing to alter these overtime rules.

4. Eligible receivers reporting

The NFL’s competition committee proposed a rule that might irk Bill Belichick. The committee wants a rule that makes it illegal for an offensive player with an eligible receiver’s number to report as ineligible or line up outside of the tackle box.

This harkens back to what New England did against the Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round playoffs. Some might consider Belichick’s tactics wise, just taking advantage of a loophole in the rule book, while others apparently have some beef with it.

I have a suspicion this one will not get passed. It wasn’t against the rules to begin with, and that might be why.

5. The 9-point play

The Colts proposed the addition of a nine-point play, one that after a touchdown a team would be allowed go for a two-point conversion and — if successful — could attempt a 50-yard extra point.

This is a very odd rule, but it’s not the craziest thing a team could come up with. If a team is in dire need of points, this cuts a two-score lead into one with one play. And this in no way, shape or form is an easy task. Two-point conversions are hard to come by and 50-yard field goals are not a given either.

I don’t believe this will get passed, at least not this offseason. I don’t think the proposal is going away anytime soon, though.