Hot Off the Press – Proposed NFL Rule Changes for 2017


ESPN – Stephen Gostkowski’s powerful right leg could become more valuable to the Patriots if an unconventional rule is passed at this week’s NFL annual meeting. The rule would reward kickers who boot kickoffs through the uprights by spotting the football at the 20-yard line for a touchback instead of the 25.

Fifteen potential rule changes are on the docket at the NFL owners meetings this week, along with several bylaw and resolution proposals. You can view them all here.

The proposed rule change that excited me the most was the proposal by Washington, that “moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.”

This is such an easy tweak, I don’t know why no one thought to propose it sooner. I have no problem with the NFL moving kickoffs back up to the 35-yard line, and moving touchbacks out to the 25-yard line, to reduce the number of kicks returned and to incentivize touchbacks. That is an easy and relatively quiet way to improve player safety. It removes a few pedestrian, yet possibly dangerous, plays a games.

This proposal seems like an easy way to reward good special teams play without putting players in harm’s way (like eliminating the fair catch rule would). Sure, teams in domes and teams with good kickers would probably benefit more but that can already be said about those teams’ kicking games in general. Playing outside in the cold year-round has its own set of benefits. It is with great pleasure that The 300s heartily endorses this proposal.

Other proposed rule changes concern instant replay. The proposals include “granting a third challenge if a club is successful on at least one of its initial two challenges,” (as opposed to both), and another proposal eliminates limits on a team’s number of challenges and what it can challenge.

I’m generally opposed to expanding instant replay. [Except last Friday. Can’t argue when the system works for you.] If I could tweak the replay rules in the NFL, I wouldn’t vote for either of these proposals.

I would propose a system that allows unlimited challenges, as long as your challenges are successful. You would lose the right to challenge after a your first unsuccessful  challenge. That way you don’t get burned if you get hosed more than three times a game, but you can’t challenge everything just to get free timeouts. Alternatively, I would treat the whole game like they currently treat the last two minutes of the half. Let a neutral arbitrator take control of the situation. Coaches shouldn’t have to strategize the replay game.

The Competition Committee also proposed shortening overtime to 10 minutes during the preseason and regular season. I don’t see the point of that as it would only result in more ties. If you really want to shorten overtime in the name of player safety, why not just get rid of it all together? There was no regular season overtime until 1974, and college football didn’t add overtime until 1996. If 60 minutes isn’t enough to decide a game, maybe that’s okay. It would also eliminate the advantage gained from winning the overtime coin flip that everyone hates.

The last resolution proposal I’ll touch on, proposed by Philadelphia, “amends the NFL’s On-Field Policy to allow clubs to have an alternate helmet in a color to match their third uniform.” Hallelujah. The uni-verse would rejoice. Nike would sell more merchandise. Pat Patriot would return. Literally no one loses here.



Categories: Boston, NFL, Patriots

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