For the Pittsburgh Steelers fan, the fact the Baltimore Ravens are suggesting rules be changed in the NFL is no surprise. John Harbaugh, head coach of the Ravens, has long been viewed as a coach who is never going to shy away from criticizing the league, and doing whatever it takes to give his team the upper hand.
Regardless of motive, the NFL owners will have some rule changes to address at their annual meetings, and the Ravens are taking the lead in terms of rule changes for the 2022 season, and potentially beyond.
Thanks to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, below are the potential rule changes for the upcoming regular season, if passed by league owners:
The Ravens were the busiest team, submitting four rule proposals. Two of them relate to giving the officiating crew extra help from the instant replay booth. One proposal would permit the instant replay official to help the on-field crew in making calls for complete or incomplete; possession; touching of a loose ball or boundary line; down by contact; and more. The rules currently only allow the replay judge to help with penalty enforcement; proper down; spot of a foul; and the game clock.
A second proposal by the Ravens would go a step further, creating an eighth member of the officiating crew and putting them in the instant replay booth and letting them call fouls via use of a TV monitor. The NFL has yet to be in favor of the “sky judge,” preferring to let the on-field officials call the penalties.
The Ravens also proposed two rules that would change the league’s overtime format. Both revolve around “spot and choose” — instead of starting overtime with a kickoff, one team would choose the spot of the ball and the end zone to defend, and the other team would decide whether to start on offense or defense.
In one proposal, which was co-signed by the Eagles, the NFL would return to a true sudden death format. Currently the NFL has a modified sudden death — the game is over if a team scores a touchdown on the first possession, but the game continues if the team only scores a field goal.
The Ravens’ other overtime proposal also includes “spot and choose,” but instead of sudden death, the Ravens propose playing an entire quarter that is only 7 minutes, 30 seconds in length. Currently, overtime is 10 minutes long.
The Eagles proposed an alternative to the onside kick that has been on the ballot for the last few years. Twice per game, a team could choose to go for a fourth-and-15 situation from the 25-yard line instead of attempting an onside kick. The offense keeps the ball if it converts, and gives the ball to the other team if it comes up short. If the offense commits a penalty, it cannot elect to kickoff and instead must go for the longer attempt.
The owners have previously voted this rule down because it’s a little gimmicky, but it may be picking up momentum. The NFL has been looking for ways to reduce onside kicks because of the injury factor. And new kickoff rules, in which only five players can line up on a side, have rendered the onside kick nearly impossible. In the 2020 regular season, only four of 67 onside kicks were successful.
The Rams proposed a new rule that would create a loss of five yards and a loss of down if a team throws two passes from behind the line of scrimmage. Currently, the only penalty is a five-yard loss.
This proposal was inspired by Brady, who in a Week 11 game against the Rams threw a pass that was batted back by a defensive lineman, caught it, and threw it again to Mike Evans for eight yards. Brady was penalized, but the Rams declined it because it would have given Brady another chance to convert a third down. In the Rams’ proposal, the Bucs would have been penalized and would have lost the down.
The Bills submitted a rule that would push back the calendar for coach and general manager hirings and put every team on an equal time frame. The Bills propose that job interviews can’t begin until the Monday after the conference championship games, and hirings can’t be made until the Monday after the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs want to expand the eligible jersey numbers for different positions. Currently, only quarterbacks, punters and kickers can wear Nos. 1-19. The Chiefs propose that running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, H-backs and wide receivers be able to wear any number from 1-49 and 80-89.
What do you think of these proposed rule changes? Would you be on board with some, but not all? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of the month.