19 new NFL rule proposals — Why, why not and what are they thinking?

Rulesrulesrules. Thank you, mistress. May we have another?

The NFL is about to consider 19 new tweaks to the already-bursting-at-the-seams rule book. The Hit Job looks at each proposed rule change.

1. Permanently move the line of scrimmage for Try kicks to the defensive team’s 15-yard line, and allows the defense to return any missed Try.

Turns out, the decline of western civilization that was the new, temporary Try kick rule didn’t decline civilization much at all. Kickers’ jobs got tougher and games became unpredictably more interesting as a result. Good experiment. Good rule.

2. Permit the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth.

Sure. Why not? Just so long as the technology works. I’m looking at you, Microsoft, stadium infrastructure honchos and the New England Patriots.

3. Make all chop blocks illegal.

Yes! Of course! There is nothing NFL players hate more than someone attacking their knees. They’d rather have concussions. It’s highly offensive to any player to be hit in the knees because it is so dangerous. It is a huge detriment to the game of football that a team’s season can be wiped away by blowing out a star player’s knee at the cost of only (maybe) a 15-yard penalty. The currently legal chop blocks are no less dangerous than an open field low tackle or a defensive lineman that falls on a throwing quarterback’s plant leg.

4. Disqualify a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

Very slippery slope. Ejecting NFL players is not something officials want to do. Does that mean they’ll refrain from calling whatever specified “ejectable” personal foul penalties are included in this new rule because they don’t want to inordinately upset the balance of a game by tossing a player? We need to see how they invariably over-specify this sea-change of a rule. Ejecting stupid, dangerous, out-of-their-heads (cough, Odell Beckham, Jr. cough) actions is smart. Ejecting a defender who racks up a ticky-tack facemask penalty followed by a borderline late hit out of bounds would be awful.

5. Change the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.

I don’t know why this is proposed. Is there a shortage of scoring or other offensive rule advantages in today’s NFL? Scoring remains pretty high.

6. Amend Rule 5, Sections 3, Articles 1 and 2 (Changes in Position) to require players to wear jersey vests with numbers appropriate for their positions.

Vests? Like the Target lady?

7. Amend Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 1, 4, and 5 (Instant Replay) to provide each team with three challenges and expand reviewable plays.

(See No. 8, No. 12 and No. 15) This rule is on a lot of teams’ minds. This proposal, the way it is worded, is the simplest of the bunch.

8. Amend Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 1, 4, and 5 (Instant Replay) to permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision except scoring plays and turnovers.

“Any decision”? Like how he dressed himself or what breath mints he chews? Any decision? Every spot of the ball on any down? Also, this rule doesn’t say if there is a cap on how many times you can challenge “any decision.” An unlimited number of challenges per game? There is no way that won’t be abused by some team in desperation mode.

9. Amend Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1 (Intentional Grounding) to expand the definition of intentional grounding.

Expand how? To make it more specific? The rule is a judgment call and it is not helped by the varying explanations given by referees when they do rule intentional grounding. Does the ball have to get “near” the line of scrimmage or touch ground or go out of bounds on or past the line of scrimmage? Some refs, in their explanations, say that grounding is/was not called because the ball got near the LOS. Others explain that it was called because the ball did not reach the LOS. It’s fuzzy and should be cleared up. And then there’s the whole imaginary lines of the “tackle box” …. Yes. Let’s firm this one up.

10. Amend Rule 14, Section 2, Article 1 (Half-distance Penalty) to add penalty yards to the distance needed to gain a First Down.

I don’t get it. If you’re on your 19-yard-line (let’s say it’s first down, to simplify), and get called for holding the ball gets moved back half the distance to the goal line. Your situation becomes, same down, ball spotted on the 9.5-yard line and you still have to get to the 29-yard-line for a first down. This proposal wants to add the 9.5-yard penalty to the line to gain … so now you have to get to the 38.5-yard line? Isn’t that double jeopardy?

Or, does this mean that you don’t move back half the distance to the goal line at all? (It doesn’t say, as proposed) You stay where you are, same down, and then instead of needing to get to the 29-yard line for a first down, you now have to get to the 39?

11. Amend Rule 8, Section 1, Article 2 (Legal Forward Pass) to prohibit quarterbacks from falling to the ground, getting up, and throwing a forward pass.

Why? Because your guys aren’t fast enough to get to a fallen quarterback? This reeks of sour grapes. The play goes on until a down player is touched down or gives himself up. Why add another layer of officiating complexity?

12. Amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 1 (Coaches’ Challenge) to eliminate the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two Instant Replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge.

Amend how? You just get three no matter what? You only have to be right once to get a third challenge? Offer unlimited challenges on the infractions already designated as reviewable? Or make everything reviewable and allow unlimited challenges? Hard to know what’s intended.

13. Amend Rule 16, Section 1, Articles 1, 4, 6 and 7 (Overtime procedures) to eliminate overtime periods in preseason games.

Halle-frickin’-lujah. Next step, reduce preseason games to three, then two per preseason. This step-in-the-right-direction rule proposal is long overdue. The NFL gets that their preseason schedule is a poor reflection of its product. Time to stop doing damage to the brand. Oh, and to the players’ bodies. That too.

14. Amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 4 (Reviewable Plays) to subject personal foul penalties to Instant Replay review.

Sure, why not. Let’s lengthen the games. Otherwise, we have to go back to our real lives that much sooner. Call this the “I don’t like my family” amendment.

15. Amend Rule 15, Section 2, Article 1 (Coaches’ Challenge) to eliminate the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two Instant Replay challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge.

This is the exact same proposal as No. 12 but by a different team. Why on earth does the NFL need to list it more than once? That’s NFL rulemaking for you, folks.

16. Expand the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.

Vince Lombardi would approve. He didn’t care much for grabbing. As for me, safety, y’all. I’m all for player safety. I reject any and all boneheaded lamentations that the NFL is becoming ever more wussified. It is a fast, brutal game and there will never be a shortage of violent collisions that are the basis of the game’s appeal. If you’ve never been on the sidelines of an NFL or major college game you just don’t know how violent it is.

Horse collar tackles are proven to be very dangerous. My only quibble is that grabbing the nameplate is a pretty fine distinction, which means two things: There will be more penalties called (not good) and there will be more discussion, conferencing and replay-reviewing for the refs to call a fair game (also not good). Heavy sigh.

17. Make it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.

This isn’t already a rule?

18. Eliminate the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.

At first glance, this seemed sensible. Then when you consider that a loss of down is almost always worse than a five-yard penalty, then you have to wonder why the NFL hates outside wide receivers. Why do we have to get the zebras so heavy-handed on this play? Just make it an incomplete pass … which it kinda is, but by calling it a “loss of down,” that means the ref has to get on the mic and stop the show to explain the “penalty.”

19. Eliminate multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.

My brain hurts. I think all these rules are giving me CTE.


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