NFL Rule Changes: Why Has Nothing Changed?

The NFL released a bunch of changes, but why has nothing actually changed? Besides one late to the party rule, our NFL Rule Changes leave fans in the lurch.

Last week at the NFL owners meeting, a few new rules were instituted. We didn’t get anything as drastic as changes to the extra point, kickoff, or overtime. However, there were some interesting developments. The league decided to outlaw the jumping-over-the-line-to-block-a-kick play. No Fun League at its finest. There were tweaks to rules already in place and clarification on others. The change that caught my eye, though, was the decision to utilize the centralized review for all replays.

Are these NFL Rule Changes actually changing anything? The update to replay reviews was a long time coming, so why has nothing really changed? NFL fans deserve more.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, discuss NFL Rule Changes in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

First off, everyone loves the centralized review rule, but are they not aware that college football has been doing this for years? Why did it take the NFL so long to do something obvious? In college, a centralized referee panel of some kind watches and reviews every play as real-time continues to proceed in the game. If something doesn’t pass the eye test through a first review, they buzz down to stop the game. This gives them an extra look, at which point they communicate with the ref on the field of what the call is going to be.

It is much more efficient than what happens in the pros. Every questionable play is viewed, but not every play is stopped to be reviewed. Some can be seen and agreed upon without stopping the game. This never happens in the NFL. And then, once a play is stopped, the centralized review simply tells the ref on the field what the call is. The entire system is much smoother and quicker. The NFL is a cluster of waiting and stoppages.

This NFL rule change doesn’t fix everything wrong with NFL review. Teams will still need to specifically challenge plays to have them reviewed. That means stoppages will still happen as often. But hopefully, the new system will speed up the time wasted after that point.

Is there any other change that caught your eye? There were some potential changes that were tabled until a later date, including cutting of overtime and cutting of celebration penalties. There was also talk of doing away with the color rush uniforms that are so ghastly, but no progress was made on that front.

The NFL owners meetings are always a secretly fascinating time of year where tweaks to the sport get passed through without much fanfare. This year should produce a good change. Now we just have to get rid of half the commercial breaks and we’ll be good.

Dan Salem:

How dare you! I love the incessant onslaught of commercial breaks…said no one ever. Absolutely anything that will help speed up the presentation of the game of football on television is an amazing thing. It was rather silly that the NFL once again ignored a better rule from the college game in favor of their own long-winded version. I understand why the coach’s challenge will remain, but in all honesty, if the replay official in the booth is doing his job, then there is no reason for a challenge. The replay official’s only job is to review every play for errors. Let him do his job and fans win.

Coaches don’t need to challenge plays if a replay official is verifying every play for them. Coaches can go back to coaching and everybody wins! But the NFL loves its baby steps, so this one is welcome none the less. How about that leaping penalty though?

Doesn’t it feel like the league decided to punish the New England Patriots with this rule change? New England was the best team at executing the leap. They won the Super Bowl last season, rubbing Tom Brady‘s suspension in the face of everyone. Now their best “trick” play is illegal. Coincidence?

Intentional fouls caught my eye as well. It seems as though the NFL is once again fighting for uniformity, because outlawing this particular form of strategy has very little obvious benefit to anyone. Utilizing the strategy of intentionally committing multiple penalties on a play is rare, but can work well. Why outlaw this? No Fun League indeed.

I usually am in favor of NFL rule changes, but outside of the necessary update to instant replay, this year’s set of new rules feel arbitrary and petty. I’d love to see further refinement of overtime and of the stoppage of play for television purposes. They don’t have to remove any commercial time, but they can use it better for the fans.

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