Now that football is back in our lives, all is right in the sports world. We can't wait to settle in all day long on Sundays and do nothing but watch the NFL. Truly, there's nothing better than football — yet the game isn't quite perfect. If the league made these six rule changes, we'd go ahead and give Roger Goodell unfettered access to our bank accounts.
No more illegal formation penalties, at all
While we're at it, allow multiple players to be in motion simultaneously before the snap, and let one player be moving toward the line of scrimmage. Modern NFL coaches are capable of some incredibly creative play-calling within the current restrictive rules. Just imagine what someone like Bill Belichick or Mike McCarthy could do if there were no limits on how they lined up their players. If nothing else, we'd get more plays like this one from the Indianapolis Colts, which is both the worst and most entertaining play in history. And on a related note ...
Make every offensive player an eligible receiver
The current rule makes no sense. Why do we arbitrarily say that some players can catch forward passes, but others can't? Of course, teams probably wouldn't send their linemen downfield very often. Combined with the previous formation rule change, however, we'd be looking at an entirely new era of football. Would teams eschew conventional positions, playing with fewer than five linemen? Would hybrid tight end-receiver-party-animals like Rob Gronkowski become even more valuable? And would Chip Kelly's players mutiny when he tried having all 11 in constant motion? It's all on the table, my friends.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsReinhold Matay
A kickoff through the uprights is worth 1 point
When people talk about changing the kickoff rules to reduce injuries, they almost always suggest getting rid of the concept altogether. Balderdash! Here's a way to keep kickoffs in the game while still increasing the number of touchbacks. I'm not saying we have to go full-bore and completely adopt the CFL's "single," but if you can put a ball through the uprights on a kickoff, that should count as a point, and the receiving team should get the ball on the 20-yard line (not the 25). This could even have the unintended effect of increasing the number of two-point conversion attempts, since teams would have a chance to make up the extra point on the kick after a failed two-point try.
Getty ImagesJohn Grieshop
Expand the intentional grounding rule
I know, I know. No one thinks they want more intentional grounding. Hear me out, though: we make it a penalty to intentionally heave the ball out of bounds. Quarterbacks can still try to avoid a sack by getting rid of the ball, but they must keep it in the field of play. If the officials believe a throw was uncatchable and out of bounds, it's intentional grounding. Admittedly, this rule change isn't great for player safety. QBs would risk taking more hits, especially near the goal line, where they wouldn't be able to throw the ball away downfield. But signal-callers have had a reliable safety valve for too long. If the defense reads a play to perfection, the offense should have to risk a turnover as they wave the white flag.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY SportsReinhold Matay
Give the wide receivers some power in the end zone
I'm fine with the NFL's current force-out rule — or lack thereof. Defensive players should be able to shove receivers out of the field of play before they complete a catch. Since we're making things a little harder on the passing game with the last rule, though, we'll try to balance things out. In the end zone, offensive players should only need to get one foot down to make a catch. Everywhere else in the field of play, the rule stays the same, since the receiver hasn't broken the plane of the goal line. Once he has? Let the most spectacular plays count on the scoreboard. Short of a simple fix to the cumbersome rule that defines what is and isn't a catch, this is the best we can do.
Getty ImagesJoe Robbins
Let coaches challenge everything
The current allotment of two challenges works, as does the procedure for using a third if you end up being right. It just doesn't make any sense that we limit challenges to a select number of instances and ignore other clear-cut incorrect calls. If a coach wants the officials to review a penalty or a fumble recovery, so be it. Often, those calls will be inconclusive by their very nature and a waste of a timeout. When there's an egregious miss, though, we'll be happy that the refs can correct an honest mistake.