A very intriguing week of NFL Owner's Meetings is commencing in Phoenix from Monday through Thursday.
Some major decisions likely to be made over the next few days, headlined by the Raiders’ relocation request, moving the team to Las Vegas, which was approved on Monday. While that will get most of the attention this week, there are several other items on the agenda that could impact every NFL team in 2017 and beyond.
This year, there are 15 rule changes that have been proposed, along with six bylaw proposals and four resolution changes. Perhaps the biggest proposed change is to replace the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
The change would also remove the replay booth from the sideline and have the referee use a tablet on the sideline during the replay. This would help speed up the replay process and help prevent the long delays that often ensue when referees review plays. Instead, it turns the final decision on replays over to Dean Blandino, NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating, and his crew. Previously, the officiating office could provide input on plays being reviewed, but the referee was still allowed to make the final decision.
Another key alteration that could come this week is to the pace of play in NFL games, according to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora.
This has become Goodell’s cause célèbre recently, numerous league sources tell me, and the impetus to streamline games and cut down on commercial breaks and overall game times could not be stronger from Park Avenue. It is reflected in potentially cutting back overtime to 10 minutes from 15 (though that is being couched as a health-and-safety issue, as well) and in the movement to centralize instant replay from the command center at the NFL offices in New York City. It is paramount on Goodell’s mind these days as the league battles with various forms of screens and entertainment in its fight to remain atop the ratings charts and to incentivize fans to actually leave their couches to attend games as well.
"That’s going to be a major topic of this week, across various meetings," said one NFL source who has been in close contact with Goodell. "Without a doubt, that’s Roger’s biggest initiative of this offseason."
NFL games have become far too long thanks to prolonged replay reviews, commercial breaks and other little things that turns what should be a three-hour game into something that hits almost four hours on a regular basis. Speeding the game up is something the league should look to do, and it sounds like changes in this regard could come this week.
Here is a summary of all the new rule proposals, which have yet to be voted on:
1. By Philadelphia; Gives additional protections for long snappers on kick plays.
2. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the "leaper" block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.
3. By Philadelphia; Expands the "crown of helmet" foul to include "hairline" part of helmet.
4. By Philadelphia; Amends the challenge system by granting a third challenge if a club is successful on at least one of its initial two challenges, and expands reviewable plays outside of two minutes of each half.
5. By Washington; Eliminates the limit of three total challenges per team per game and eliminates the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two challenges in order to be awarded a third challenge.
6. By Washington; Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
7. By Buffalo and Seattle; Permits a coach to challenge any officials’ decision except scoring plays and turnovers.
8. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
9. By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
10. By Competition Committee; Reduces the length of preseason and regular season overtime periods to 10 minutes.
11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.