The first week of the NFL season is upon us, but before we get down to the nitty-gritty analysis and weekly overreactions, I thought it would be fun to do something a little more laid back and get some creative juices flowing. The NFL rule book is 86 pages long and contains hundreds of very specific rules. For a game as old and as scrutinized as football, you would think the rules would be fairly well nailed down, but every year a few minor and sometimes major changes are made. Just this offseason, the PAT was moved back to the 15 yard line, and while the effect has been small, it has been noticeable. I like this particular rule change, but I don't think it goes far enough. In fact, there are quite a few rules I think should be altered, and I'll go over some of those here. Some will be more crazy than others. Feel free to tell everyone what rules you think are ridiculous in the comments below.
Calls Should Be Overturned Without Conclusive Evidence
Something that has always bothered me about replay is that a call can only be overturned with clear and conclusive evidence. To me, this doesn't make sense. The call on the field is often unclear and inconclusive. If referees make a fumble call in a split second with a blocked view, why should that get more weight than the frame-by-frame replay? To borrow a phrase from the Wells report, I think the burden of proof in replays should be "more probable than not." We allow officials to make judgment calls based on plays that happen very quickly, with a lot going on. Doesn't it stand to reason that the same judgment call would be better made based on the slow motion replay, even if the call still isn't 100% clear? I also think more calls should be reviewable. In Canadian football, pass interference calls are reviewable. Why can't we have that?
Let's Get Rid Of Extra Points
I said earlier that I liked the new extra point rule, but it didn't go far enough for my taste. I want to get rid of the play entirely. Make every touchdown worth seven points automatically, and alter the current two point play so that it can bump it up to eight, at the risk of knocking it down to six on a failure. This would help speed up the game and remove a play that is still pretty close to automatic. Another option is to remove the kicking option entirely, and just make the extra point the same as a two point conversion. This way that point is actually tied to a normal football play. This is also how we did it in fourth grade, so obviously that means it's the right way. As they currently stand, extra points are basically your chance to get a head start on that bathroom break or beer run. It's a play literally no one care about besides the kicker. I'm open to any and all solutions to make it worth watching.
Defensive Pass Interference Penalties Are Stupid
I don't think a game should be decided on a penalty. For the most part, they can't be. The exception is pass interference. It never, ever makes sense to have a 50 yard penalty, but that's what we have with DPI. If you think I'm being hyperbolic here, it's happened to the Browns twice in the past six years. Every other level of football has decided this is a bad thing to do, why can't the NFL figure it out? As I see it, there are two solutions. The first is to make it a 10 or 15 yard penalty instead of a spot foul. This is my preferred solution. Are you ready for the crazy idea? If DPI can be a spot foul, why not make offensive pass interference a spot foul? Say a receiver pushes off 25 yards down field, you would then penalize the offense 25 yards from the line of scrimmage. This only really works if officials call OPI, something they are apparently hesitant to do, but I think it would be more fair. Speaking of fair, it seems pretty unbalanced to me that so many defensive penalties result in an automatic first down, while so few offensive penalties include a loss of down. Let's get that cleaned up, NFL.
What's Up With Intentional Grounding?
This is another one of those rules that doesn't make sense to me. What is so magical about the poorly-defined "tackle box" that makes it a penalty to throw the ball away inside of it but not out? It should either always be ok to throw the ball away, or never. Personally, I would say never, and I would even crack down on obvious throw aways that technically have a target. At first I thought that would never happen, because it would be bad for offenses, and the NFL love offense. But on the other hand, it would result in more turnovers, and those are some of the most exciting plays in football. Maybe they should wait until we have a QB other than Josh McCown to implement this one though.
So there they are, four rules I think should be changed. Some of these are more realistic than others, but I think they would all improve the experience. What do you think, are there any rules that have always struck you as odd? Help me waste some time before next Sunday and list them in the comments.