NFL To Vote On Major Rule Changes

The NFL figures to look mighty different in 2020. On Tuesday, owners will vote on the following rule proposals, per a press release from the league office: 

  • From the Eagles: An alternative to the onside kick, that would allow the trailing team a chance to keep the ball after scoring by going for it on a 4th-and-15 play from the kicking team’s 25-yard line. As Tom Pelissero of (on Twitter) notes, this is similar to the rule used by the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
  • From the Eagles: A permanent expansion of automatic replay to including “scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful/ unsuccessful try attempt.”
  • From the Dolphins: Give the defense the option to have the clock to start on the referee’s signal, if the defense declines an offensive penalty late in the first or second half.
  • From the Ravens and Chargers: The addition of a “booth umpire” as well as the addition of a “Senior Technology Advisor to the Referee” to assist officials.
  • Increased “defenseless player protection” for a kick or punt returner who is “in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.” (from the Competition Committee)
  • Cutting down on game clock manipulation by disallowing “multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running.” (from the Competition Committee)

The Eagles’ proposed amendment to the league’s onside kick is the boldest of the bunch, and support is growing among owners, Pelissero hears (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Ravens/Chargers idea for a “sky judge” also has momentum (Twitter link). Either way, Pelissero gets the sense that some version of that concept will be tested in the preseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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20 comments on “NFL To Vote On Major Rule Changes

  1. dandan

    The second to last one is stupid, that’s what a fair catch is for. You don’t want to get blasted? Wave your hand in the air.

    • crosseyedlemon

      You don’t want to be tackled…go join a chess team. Return of punts should be mandatory like in the CFL.

  2. DarkSide830

    i like the idea of changing the onside kick, whether in this way or in another. the current format just does not work at all for the kicking team and is a bit silly in concept to be honest.

    • Rich

      I like the idea, but today kickoffs are from the 35-yard line and must travel 10-yards. Let’s say they go exactly 10-yards so play would begin from the kicking teams 45-yard line. If you’re allowing them 4th and 15, why not have it 4th and 15 from the kicking teams 30-yard line? Sure it’s only 5-yards and if either scenario failed, the receiving team kneels down to run out the clock anyway.

    • wrigleyhawkeye

      I’m fine with the rule change but I’d add the caveat you can’t get an automatic first down or yardage via penalty. You want the ball, you have to get 15 yards. If there’s a penalty you get the yards and closer to the end zone and you get another chance. Offsides? You get 5 yards further down field, but it’s 4th and 15 again. PI? You get the ball where it’s spotted, but it’s 4th and 15– unless you are somehow inside their 15 then they just deserve it.

      • strotorious

        The penalties are what bother me as well. Some teams have developed a skill of drawing pass interference on deep balls by leading the receiver into the defender. I don’t like the idea of a team trailing the whole game, scoring late, and then a referee judgement call determines if they get the ball deep in opposition territory or if the game is essentially over.

  3. sufferfortribe

    Increased defenseless player protection?
    Are you @$”;/! kidding me? It’s a contact sport, idiots.

  4. burrow_is_a_bust

    4th and 15 sounds to short .even prior to the changes to the onside kick the odds on a 4th and 15 r significantly higher

  5. Jack0207

    I think they should borrow the idea of the XFL as far as kickoffs and punts, where players can’t go downfield until the player catches the ball. Creates more opportunities for big returns and helps with safety for players

    • Michael Chaney

      Yeah I loved that idea, and it made the kickoffs more exciting in the XFL games I watched too

  6. hOsEbEeLiOn

    Get rid of over time. Modified college rules.

    Start at the opponents 40. Match scoring for scoring. 3 OT periods before it ends in a tie.

    4th and 15 rule seems good. Except make it from the 50 not the 25 yard line.

    Also. Last 2 mins of each quarter offensive fouls don’t stop clock. Clock keeps ticking. Similar to what the dolphins propose.

      • hOsEbEeLiOn

        So you’ve got nothing of value to contribute. Gotcha. Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate the feedback. Really added to the discussion. We are all much better off for reading your thought out, insightful, well researched and reasoned opinion.

        You make some valid points. Keep up the good work my friend.

        • wagner13

          The 50 yard line is way too close. If you have a somewhat reliable kicker, a first down automatically puts you in position to kick a game-winning/tying field goal

  7. JohnTheSportsFanatic

    Love the Ravens and Chargers one. These NFL refs need some serious help.

    • outhaus33

      I agree. Leave the game alone. Why do we need 10 rule changes every year. Let em play

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