MAQB, Rulebook Style

by NFL Gimpy

The NFL is considering some serious rule changes.  What’s good and what isn’t? 

This week’s column is going to be a bit short, I’ve been crazy busy lately and if you need a little extra NFLGimpy fix feel free to look a little bit below to see my immediate reaction to Peytebow Day. In my never-ending quest to find refreshing content that isn’t being beaten to the ground, I stumbled across information regarding potential rules changes for the 2012 season a few days back. So I figured I’d present a few of them and go over what I think.

The big rule change is discussing overtime. Currently the rule is different for regular season and playoffs. In the regular season, it’s a pure sudden death. In the playoffs, if the team receiving the initial kickoff makes a FG on their first possession, the opposing team has an opportunity to respond. There are a few little exceptions like onside kicks, but that’s the gist of it. A lot of people were confused by the rule, players included. For example, after Demaryius Thomas scored the game winning touchdown against the Steelers on the opening OT possession, he didn’t think the game was over. The new suggestion is to make the rule binding to the regular season and playoffs so it’s consistent.

I’ll start off with the consistency. I agree with that. The rule needs to be all or nothing. You shouldn’t have a different overtime setup for the regular season and playoffs. The NHL does the same thing and it doesn’t make sense. Why should the rules change because it’s the playoffs?

As to whether or not a FG can win a game in overtime, I’m a fan of sudden death, forget this stupid gimmicky crap. To have a realistic chance at making a FG, the offense has to make it all the way to the opposing 38 yard line, which would be a 55 yard field goal. Obviously kicks longer than that have been made, but you won’t see many teams attempting a 60 yard FG when missing gives the other team great field position. If you make it to the 38 yard line and hit a FG, you won. This rule is gimmicky and I’d much prefer either a pure sudden death or college style.

The main argument for the rule is that the team who receives the kickoff has an inherent advantage because they’re on offense first. Ok, but why is a touchdown a game winner and not a FG? One missed assignment or tackle and the game could be over (see Thomas, Demaryius). I’d much rather see a team start with the ball on their 20, drive 45 yards on 8 plays and kick a game winning FG than watching a busted play end it. Either both teams get a shot or sudden death, no inbetween.

What do you think? Should we have a random exception to sudden death because it’s not “good” for a playoff game to end on a field goal in overtime? Does it even make sense to have a separate rule for the regular season and playoffs?

The other big rule changes involve instant replay functions. The suggestions are adding turnovers to the automatic review (along with scoring plays and inside 2 minutes) and removing the on field official from the review process, which would have it done entirely by someone in the booth. I like the booth idea, it will speed up the process and allow the person reviewing the play to watch it in peace and quiet without fear of retribution. We all know refs get daily death threats for blown calls, at least let them avoid a little blame if another Calvin Johnson touchdown gets reversed.

As to the automatic review, I don’t like the entire concept. My reasoning might be a little different than others who are against it. My problem is the system doesn’t sync up. The officials will review plays that are ruled a touchdown or turnover to confirm that it was in fact a touchdown or turnover if this rule goes through (touchdowns are already automatically reviewed). They will not review it if it’s ruled not a touchdown or turnover. I have a huge issue with that.

Officials are trained to call it like they see it. If they think the ball hit the ground during an interception, they call it incomplete. That’s fine if you’re ok with creating a situation where you still leave a huge hole in officiating mistakes. The goal of replay is to make sure the officials are making the right calls. So why are you only reviewing what was ruled as successful touchdowns and interceptions but not unsuccessful ones that might have been? I see this like the overtime situation: all or nothing. Either review any potential touchdown or interception automatically or nothing at all. I wish I could remember the game where a play was blatantly a touchdown, ruled incomplete, and the coach was out of challenges. If anyone can (editor, little help?) remember please feel free to correct me, but in my eyes that’s unacceptable.

The instant argument against this is “well that’s why the coaches have their challenges if they use them, they lose them.” That’s fair but why let them challenge it at all then? Why not let the booth call for a replay on any questionable play? Again, the inconsistency doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider that coaches can’t challenge plays that are supposed to be automatically reviewed. There were several scenarios in 2011 in which questionable touchdowns went unreviewed, ie  Darren Sproles clearly stepped out of bounds vs. the Bears and the play went unchallenged, with head coach Lovie Smith completely powerless to act. It’s actually a penalty if you throw a challenge flag in these scenarios.

What scares me is the potential for officials to possibly rule questionable calls one way with the assumption that it will be reviewed. Let’s say you aren’t sure if a knee was down before the runner fumbled so you just rule it a fumble so it can be reviewed? They aren’t trained to do that but we’ve all seen officials screw up how they’re supposed to do things many times. Would the fear of making a bad non-call influence officials to make the call? What if an official makes a call, assuming it will be reviewed…and it isn’t? Now a questionable call is exacerbated by the system and a coach can’t challenge it.

The only way I’ll support this change is if they review all possible turnovers and touchdowns  PLUS the ability of coaches to challenge these plays without a penalty. If a coach wants to use one of his challenges on a play that is automatically reviewed, that’s his prerogative. If he’s wrong, that’s his mistake. You think that’s excessive? I agree. That’s why they should go back to 2 or 3 challenges per game for each team, no random exceptions. Consistency.

Quick Hits

- Is there a player in the draft with more destination intrigue than Ryan Tannehill? I mean that as in someone is going to overpay for the only possible long term franchise QB left on the market. Obviously Luck and RG3 are going to go 1 and 2 to the Colts and Redskins, which one goes where is possibly going to change, but they’re 1 and 2. Where will Tannehill go? Will he go to the Browns at 4? Will someone fear losing him to the Browns and trade up with the Vikings? Will Seattle take him despite signing Flynn? Where Tannehill goes will be the story of draft day.

- If you aren’t following The Sideline View on twitter (@SidelineFB) I highly recommend it. Not too many sites have an NFL Exec go over their mock. A few good nuggets from this morning include Dontari Poe possibly going as high as top 10 (elite physical talent at DT, questionable results against inferior competition, seriously, he’s a freak of nature), Janoris Jenkins won’t go in the first round (character concerns galore, worse than Pac Man Jones) and that Whitney Mercilus won’t make it to the 20th pick. Great info.

- I’m in favor of bumping the tradeline back from Week 6 to Week 8. The NFL wanted to prevent “firesales” from teams who aren’t that good offloading contracts to save $$ if they weren’t any good. With the new CBA soon requiring a pretty high salary floor (ie teams HAVE to spend so much money), it’s not necessary. Trade deadline moves are a huge part of the NHL and something I love. The trade deadline in the NFL is useless at Week 6. When’s the last time you saw a major move? Chris Chambers to the Chargers?

- The NFL officially switches its jerseys over to Nike from Reebok in the next couple of days. I’m really hoping I can find some old Reebok stuff in clearance bins because jerseys are overpriced. They aren’t as bad as hockey jerseys though (can you tell I’m in hockey mode? That’s what, my 5th hockey reference this column?)

-Compensatory picks are starting to come out. You know you’re a football nerd when you’re eager to see who gets extra picks at the end of the 4th round.

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10 Responses to MAQB, Rulebook Style

  1. iskar36 says:

    I’m actually a fan of the overtime rule. I don’t think it is ideal, but I do think it is a major improvement over the previous sudden death. In a game that is a shootout where defense has had a limited number of stops, why make defense determine the outcome of the game. In that type of game, winning the coin flip is a major advantage. Your point that “why a touchdown and not a fg” is a valid one, but at the same time, there is a huge difference between the two. Driving 45 yards versus 80 yards and crossing the endzone is a major difference. On top of that, yes, one missed assignment COULD lead to a TD, but it also could simply lead to a big gain. In the old rule, that big gain translates into a FG, hence the game is over anyway, but with the new rule, the defense has a chance to recover. Lastly, the most agonizingly anticlimactic way to end a game is for the coin flip to happen, team gets a decent return, after a few plays gets the ball to the 35 yard line, and then rushes the ball twice to position themselves slightly better and kick a fg on 3rd down.

    Personally, I would prefer the overtime rule to be changed so that the defense has a chance to respond, regardless of if it is a touchdown or FG. After the first possession, it turns into sudden death, but both teams get a chance to score.

    As for the review rule, I agree that the in booth replay official can’t allow a questionable call to go unreviewed, but I don’t think that is a reason to not have automatic reviews for touchdowns and turnovers. I think the booth reviewers just need to be trained properly. That being said, when touchdowns and turnovers are both being automatically reviewed, there are only a limited number of plays that coaches are likely to challenge, thus with 2 or 3 available challenges, they should still have a challenge available on the questionable nontouchdown or nonturnover call. If they don’t, why would that be any worse than the old rule without automatic challenges. If anything, they would have had to use their challenges earlier on calls that are now automatically reviewed.

    • NFLGimpy says:

      Iskar,

      Valid points. I guess I just don’t like inconsistency. Either a score should a game in OT or it shouldn’t. Either all questionable plays should be reviewed or they aren’t. The ref’s decision shouldn’t influence whether or not the booth reviews a play. Will a ref think on a questionable call “I’ll just rule it an interception, the booth will look at it” and call it that way? They may be trained otherwise but refs make mistakes constantly.

      • Iskar36 says:

        Don’t get me wrong, the current rules are far from ideal and I think you make valid arguments against the proposed rules. At the same time, while you think the rule should be cleaner than the new proposed rule, I think many fans hate the old OT rule of whoever scores first wins, especially when a coin flip can serve as a huge advantage. As for reviews, the goal is to get the plays called correctly. The ones that are most often challenged are the touchdowns and the turnovers, so by reviewing every single touchdown and turnover, you are trying to reduce the number of times the call ends up going wrong. Yes, the in booth ref needs to make sure to do a better job, but that’s an issue I have with training the refs, not the rule itself. For me, both of these rules are progress in the right direction to fixing problems in the past.

        • NFLGimpy says:

          Agreeing to disagree in a friendly manner doesn’t make for good interwebs drama. Plese make your posts less well written and argued and more obnoxious including unnecessary personal insults.

          Seriously though, well argued. We will just have to agree to disagree because it’s a matter of preference, not fact.

  2. Dan J says:

    I think the Ot rule should mirror the soccer sudden death penalty shootout.
    For the game to continue the second team must match the first teams result. If the second team beats the result they win the game.
    So if team A scores a fieldgoal team B can win by scoring a touchdown, keep the game going by scoring a fieldgoal, or lose by not scoring at all.

    • NFLGimpy says:

      Dan,

      That’s pretty much the college football OT. Each team gets the ball on their opponents 25 yard line (so only 25 yards away from the end zone) with an opportunity to score. If team 1 gets a FG and team 2 gets a touchdown, the game is over. If team 1 gets a touchdown and team 2 does as well, then it goes into the 2nd OT.

      Also, starting in the 3rd OT (if it gets that far), if a touchdown is scored, you have to go for a 2 point conversion instead of just the extra point to prevent a situation where it just keeps going on forever. I do remember Pitt-Notre Dame in 2008 where I think it went to 5 OTs.

      Hey Matt, how did that game end? Do you remember? I do. I do believe my boy Pat Bostick took care of it.

  3. AC says:

    I don’t like the new OT rule, I’m in line with you and making it sudden death or not, no inbetween.

    I know this doesn’t really mean much, but I have some worries about the uniform switchover. Seeing that Nike is slowly killing classic uniforms in college, I have no doubt that they will have destroyed the NFL uniforms in short order. I hate their uniform designs in college (Oregon, Miami, combat unis, etc.) so I expect to see classic unis like the Bears, Browns, Giants, Jets, Packers destroyed very soon.

    • NFLGimpy says:

      Nike did the pro combat for the Pitt-WVU backyard brawl a year or two ago. Ugliest uniforms ever, especially the Pitt ones. The helmets were cool but the uniforms looked like the scraps left on the floor got patched together.

  4. Stephen says:

    I’m not a fan at all of nike taking over the uniforms. Everything Nike touches seems to have to include either: Camouflage, lightning bolts, strikingly reflective surfaces or ugly jagged edges. They seem to want to make everything “cool” by making it as shiny, sparkly and juvenile as possible. I foresee the death of the vintage chique looks with Nike at the helm.

    • NFLGimpy says:

      One of the things I enjoy most about my column is to see what invokes the most comments. I had no idea so many people weren’t happy about Nike taking over the uniforms but I now see why. I like some of their styles in small doses (ie Oregon does some cool stuff, but other times it’s hideous) and if they do to NFL uniforms what they’ve done to some college ones it will be a travesty.

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