On Thursday, it was reported that the NFL competition committee has added several proposed rule changes for the 2023 NFL season to go along with those submitted by NFL teams. This is according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The NFL competition committee has presented eight rules changes proposals, including one that would put the ball in play at the receiving team’s 25-yard line if there is a fair catch on a free kick (kickoff and safety kick) behind the receiving team’s 25-yard line. pic.twitter.com/ukJeDBLn1A— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 23, 2023
On this particular list, there were 17 items with eight coming from the competition committee. Some of the competition committee’s suggested changes are with tweaking some termanology and trying to be more consistent with some penalties. But there were a couple of notes that stand out more than others.
One of the interesting things the competition committee has suggested is not making a touchback different for a punt versus a kickoff. This used to be the case as any touchback used to result in the ball being placed at the 20-yard line regardless of if it was a punt or a kickoff. But after college football changed a kickoff touchback to be on the 25-yard line in 2012, the NFL made the change in 2018. Rather than return the kickoff touchback to the 20-yard line, the competition committee is proposing that a touchback for a punt be placed at the 25-yard line.
Another interesting rule proposal by the competition committee also involves kickoffs. Whether a team is performing a kickoff or a free kick after a safety, the committee is proposing that a fair catch of the kick in the field of play inside the 25-yard line would result in the ball being placed at the 25. Currently, if a player performs a fair catch on a kickoff, the ball would be placed at the spot in which they caught it. This current rule is why a fair catch is so rare on a kickoff. For this proposal, any fair catch inside the 25 yard line would in essence result in a touchback. So if a team is constantly kicking the ball to the 2 or 3-yard line in order to force a return, teams would have the option of not returning the ball and doing a fair catch and simply getting it at the 25-yard line. In other words, the receiving team would have the ultimate decision on if there is a return or not and not be forced into returning the ball by the kickoff coming up short. It would be totally at their discretion as to whether to attempt a return.
As for the rule changes on this list from NFL teams, they include being able to use the number “0” as a jersey number, changing some of the rules with replay, and giving an alternative to the onside kick. The onside kick rule, proposed by the Philadelphia Eagles, has been proposed before because it was used in the AAF. A similar rule is used in the USFL and XFL. For this particular proposal, the Eagles are suggesting a 4th and 20 at the team’s own 20-yard line.
Some of the replay suggestions are for various reasons. One proposal is to expand to allow teams more than two challenges in a game, while another would make failed fourth-down conversions an automatic review much like a scoring play. Personally, I thought a failed fourth-down conversion would fall under the category of a change of position play as turnovers are currently automatic reviews and not from the coach’s challenge.
As expected, there are a number of rule change proposals dealing with the ability to review penalties. One proposal is specific about roughing the passer while another includes all personal fouls. Even another proposal allows the replay official to be consulted on penalty assessment. Looking at all of these real proposals, it will be very interesting to see if the NFL will go back to including penalties being reviewable by replay and to what extent it would be implemented. In 2019, the NFL used one season where pass interference penalties could be challenged but the review process actually made the situation worse and the rule was abandoned.
So what do you think about the proposed rule changes? Do any of them stand out as something the NFL should adopt? Is there any one in particular you believe is a bad idea? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.