Overtime, replay hot topics at NFL Meetings

Several rules changes will be voted on this week

Sal Capaccio
March 24, 2019 - 9:23 pm
Brandon Beane

Photo: Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY Sports

Passing over Omaha, NE at 473 MPH (WGR550) - Last year, it was defining what is or isn’t a catch. This year, it’s replay and overtime.

Those will be the two hot-button topics of discussion when the NFL's Competition Committee gets together in Phoenix, Arizona this week at the annual league meetings. The meetings kick off Monday morning with the committee discussing and voting on several new rules proposals and will conclude after commissioner Roger Godell gives closing remarks on Wednesday afternoon.

The main overtime rules changes were all proposed by the Kansas City Chiefs, who lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in overtime of the AFC Championship Game last season. The Patriots got the ball first and scored a touchdown, leaving quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense on the bench, never having a chance to touch the football. The Chiefs want to change that, proposing that each team gets at least one possession, regardless if there is a touchdown scored first.

Kansas City is also proposing to eliminate overtime for preseason and to eliminate the overtime coin toss. The winner of the initial coin toss to begin the game would then choose whether to kick or receive, or which goal to defend.

There are a bunch of different proposals to expand replay in various ways, initiated by several different teams. The Washington Redskins have proposed allowing all plays to be reviewed, whether by a coach's challenge or through the officiating department, much like the current college system. Separately, they’ve also proposed making all personal fouls reviewable. 

The Chiefs want to add personal fouls, whether actually called or not called on the field, as plays subject to a coach's challenges.

The Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, and Seattle Seahawks have proposed allowing coaches to challenge player safety-related penalties, whether called or not called on the field.

The Eagles also want to add scoring plays and turnovers negated by a penalty to be automatically reviewed.

The Denver Broncos have proposed adding an automatic review to all fourth down plays that are spotted short of the first down line to gain or goal line, as well as having all one and two-point conversion attempts to be subject to automatic review.

The competition committee itself has proposed and will vote on expanding reviewable plays to include pass interference, roughing the passer, and unnecessary contact against a defenseless player, as well as having an automatic review of scoring plays and turnovers negated by a penalty, and all conversion attempts (one or two points). All of this would only be for a one-year trial.

It doesn’t appear most of the overtime proposals have much traction around the league to be implemented. Any changes will need 24 of 32 votes to pass. There are a total of 16 rules changes proposals, as well as three changes to bylaws.

One of the rules that’s being proposed, which could drastically change how a team can maintain possession after a late score, actually might have a chance to pass.

The Broncos have proposed allowing teams one opportunity, and only in the fourth quarter, to go for a 4th-and-15 from their own 35-yard line, after they score. This would be an alternative to trying an onside kick, which is becoming increasingly difficult to recover due to other rules changes over the past few years. There appears to be quite a bit of sentiment amongst owners for this change.

As far as the Buffalo Bills are concerned, general manager Brandon Beane is expected to speak to the Buffalo media on hand around 4 p.m. local time. Head coach Sean McDermott will do the same as part of the Coach's Breakfast Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. PDT. Owner’s Terry and Kim Pegula are tentatively scheduled to speak to the Buffalo media sometime Tuesday afternoon. 

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