The League

THE QUESTION

NFL Rule Changes: What Would You Fix?

If you had the power to change one NFL rule, which would it be?

Posted by Emil Steiner on May 11, 2009 12:00 PM
FEATURED COMMENTS

RBlackwell1: I feel strongly that player who commits a flagrant personal penalty be benched for some prescribed period of time. The time would be scalabl...

ryanem1: Hello? First, fix the tuck rule, already. Then we can have this conversation about other changes....

oxfordsystems: Add another voice to those who want the overtime format revistited/changed. The sudden death (almost a de facto "team that wins the flips an...

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ALL COMMENTS (22)
echovector Author Profile Page :

Seed the playoffs based on record. It's absurd that last year two teams with great records in tough divisions (Indianapolis and Atlanta) lost on the road to mediocre teams from lousy divisions (8-8 San Diego and 9-7 Arizona). Both teams were far more deserving of the home advantage than their opponents.

pablo1 Author Profile Page :

Overtime: One posession minimum for each team. I'm tired of the winner of a coin toss getting the better odds.

RadicalGlove Author Profile Page :

Too many rules are nuanced and subjective. For example, if you catch the ball and juggle it a few times, it should nevertheless ALWAYS count as a reception. Nobody asks whether a baseball outfielder who makes a tough but inelegant catch had "possession." If they didn't drop the ball, it counts. Football needs to do the same. I'd also go back to the old rule on fumbles. A lost ball should be a lost ball, regardless of whether or not your knees are on the ground.

g9fool Author Profile Page :

Relax pass-interference calls. Too many pass-heavy teams are simply heaving out long bombs hoping for a 50+ yard PI. It's unsatisfying for everyone involved.

gtrain82 Author Profile Page :

When a first down is gained and a personal foul is called after the play, the result should then be a first and 25 instead of counting off the 15 yards and making it first and ten.
Secondly, when a player catches the ball in the air and is pushed out by the defender before landing in-bounds, the pass should be incomplete. As it stands, the rule disregards a great defensive play.

davidalanwatts Author Profile Page :

The force out rule should be reviewed. Currently the effect of it takes aways the sideline pass for most teams. Near the endzone it has reduced the ability of teams to score unless you have a receiver who is 6'5" or more. Teams now just push guys out of bounds if they are near the sideline. They never should have tinkered with the previous rule. It had been that way almost "forever". Everybody knew the "force out rule" no matter what level of football they played.

Emil Steiner Author Profile Page :

It's interesting you say that David. Panelist Dan Levy wrote the exact opposite today: "Reward the defense for playing defense. If that means knocking a ball down, so be it. If it means knocking a player out of bounds before he can get his feet down, kudos to you, mister defensive back. Finally the NFL wised up on that one."
http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/panelists/2009/05/nfl-rule-changes-celebrations-levy.html

jmcauli1 Author Profile Page :

Expand the bump rule for defensive secondary. Allow them to bump receivers 10 yards down field or anywhere so long as the ball is not in the air.

robguest Author Profile Page :

I agree with pablo1 that overtime needs to be fixed. With good field position it is possible to win just by moving the ball 30 to 40 yards and kicking a field goal. Perhaps the offense should be forced to start at the 20 at the first play of overtime. Or how about this wild idea: you can't win by a field goal during your team's first possession in overtime.

SomeGuy47 Author Profile Page :

I would definitely change the way overtime is handled. Each team should get 1 possession each. For a game that relies heavily on skills to win a game, the overtime procedure boils down to the luck of a coin toss and it goes against the culture of the sport.

jimward21 Author Profile Page :

Get rid of the coin toss. The home team receives.

PaulO2 Author Profile Page :

For Overtime: Each team gets at least one possesion, with the caveat that the second team needs to score more points than 1st to win. The 2nd team cannot play for a tie. If the 1st team scores 3 points, the second team needs a TD, it can't kick a field goal. If the 1st teams scores 7 then the 2nd team needs 8. If both score 6 than the 1st team wins.

PaulO2 Author Profile Page :

The team that is behind should get the 2nd half kick off.

PaulO2 Author Profile Page :

The Lambeau Leap excessive celebration and it is dangerous to the player.

justinw1 Author Profile Page :

I don't have a problem with penalizing defensive pass interference by awarding a first down at the spot of the foul. But it's inconsistent with the rule for offensive pass interference, which has a fixed yardage penalty (10 yards). To level the playing field, offensive pass interference should result in the defending team taking possession of the ball at the spot of the foul.

delOH Author Profile Page :

The two minute warning. To say this exersize has outlived it's usefulness is an understatement. How many clocks are on the field for coaches, players and fans to see? Give each team an extra timeout to use as they wish, and eliminate this silly "WARNING". Also, eliminate the ground not being able to cause a fumble and the QB's ability to spike the ball and stop the clock.

alex35332 Author Profile Page :

I will be honest. There is very little that the NFL needs to go and change now, each off season I worry that they are trying to change rules for the sake of change rather than need. But my number 1 choice would be expanding the rosters, and I mean dramatically. Why? There are a lot of injuries in the NFL, it take a lot longer to learn a playbook than it does to get on the field when picked up by a baseball team. I think it would also give the teams a chance to "redshirt" rookies and not feel much pressure for them to play. It would allow more players to be developed through the league.

I would like to see the roster expanded to 60 players suit up for sunday and up to 22 practice squad guys.

Section406 Author Profile Page :

Personally, I think there are far too many rules in the NFL, and the game is too complex. Try explaining the muff rule to someone new to the game -- first you have to explain 4th down, then punting, then muffs. It's insane.

So, first -- stop trying to legislate classy behavior. Leave in penalties for really unsportsmanlike conduct, but let a guy dance if he wants. Let him get a cheap shot later if everyone else thinks it's a bush-league dance. (See hockey or MLB.)
Second -- what about a 5-yard unsportsmanlike penalty? A 15-yarder is a big deal and usually means a loss of posession. But a 5-yarder means "quit arguing or you'll be in trouble."

Third -- let a player remove his helmet. Who got a burr up his behind about that one?

Fourth -- settle on a consistent set of rules for kicks, punts, kickoffs, etc. "2 points and you punt from your 15" is so 1930's.

Fifth -- I still don't know the new rules for determining posession on a falling-down catch. Make something simple and stick with it.

Sixth -- JUST ONE TV timeout per score. This TD-commercial-KickOff-Commercial-Quarter-Commercial thing is really absurd. I'll buy the stinking beer already.

Seventh -- get rid of the rule requiring a "covered" eligible receiver. Is that really better for the game than requiring 7 on the line, 4 in the backfield, and only the 2 outside linemen being eligible?

There's more, but that's the best I had at the top of my head.

jerkhoff Author Profile Page :

Sooner or later the OT rules have to change. Too many truly great comebacks have been ruined by anticlimactic overtimes. These games should not be decided by a coin toss -- the statistical advantage to the winner of the toss is just too great. I understand the league's concern about games running over, but the current system is simply an embarrassment to the game.

Here's my suggestion. If the first score of OT is a touchdown, the game is over. If it's only a field goal, the other team gets one possession to come back and score a touchdown to win (a field goal still loses). This way both teams have a strong incentive to go for the touchdown in OT, and it only increases the length of the game by one possession at most.

Please, please, please fix the OT system!

By the way, as a diehard Pats fan, I really didn't think that the playoff seeding system was really that unfair. Winning your division should count for something, and if that means that a better team doesn't make it into the playoffs, so be it. Even though I firmly believe that the Pats would have won the Super Bowl if they had managed to squeak into the playoffs...

RBlackwell1 Author Profile Page :

I feel strongly that player who commits a flagrant personal penalty be benched for some prescribed period of time. The time would be scalable based upon prior penalties. This may reduce injuries and cheap play.

ryanem1 Author Profile Page :

Hello? First, fix the tuck rule, already. Then we can have this conversation about other changes.

oxfordsystems Author Profile Page :

Add another voice to those who want the overtime format revistited/changed. The sudden death (almost a de facto "team that wins the flips and gets the ball first wins" system) is just stupid. I'd rather see essentially the same game in OT that I saw for the first four quarters. That is to say why not just flip a coin, kickoff and play under the same rules that the entire game was played under?

I'd set it up like this: Tie at end of regulation gets a coin flip, a kickoff and an extension of game time not to exceed a 15 minute quarter. If one team scores, the other team has a chance to answer (just as in the game) on their next possession. If they can't answer the score (by tying or taking the lead), the game ends. If they do answer by tying or taking the lead, the game continues under the time remaining on the OT clock. And so it goes until either time in the OT quarter expires (at which point we have a tie game, unless it's playoffs in which case we play another quarter) or until one team is able to take the lead and the other team is unable to answer on their following possession. Failure to answer a score by tying or taking the lead would end the game. (Think of it as a modified sudden death format.)

One more wrinkle: In OT, teams would be required to go for two point conversions following TD's.

 
 
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