The PJ Tatler

NFL approves rule changes for the next season, which might never happen

The competition committee has moved kickoffs back to the 35 yard line and changed the replay rules on scoring plays.

The rule that moves kickoffs from the 30 to the 35-yard line passed 26-6, while the rule to have the booth replay official review all scoring plays passed 30-2. Overall, four of the five proposals up for vote passed.

They approved the change supposedly in the interests of preventing injuries. But kickoffs were moved to the 30 from the 35 a few years back in the interests of creating more runbacks. So to keep the new rule change from leading to what brought it about in the first place, kicking teams now get only 5 yards of runup to the ball, instead of the 10 to 15 yards they currently take. That should keep kicks shorter for a while…which will mean we’ll have nearly as many runbacks as we have now. And probably an unchanged number of injuries, statistically speaking anyway. And then teams will draft kickers who kick farther, and the NFL will move kickoffs back to the 30 again. I guess I’m saying I don’t really get the point of this rule change.

Anyway, the replay rule change strikes me as making more sense.

The other major change involved instant replay. The booth replay official will now have to confirm all scoring plays, saving coaches from using challenges on plays in the end zone. To pass that proposal, the committee altered its suggestion by not changing the number of challenges for coaches. Now, coaches can make two challenges a game, but if they are correct on both, they would have access to a third challenge. The committee wanted to eliminate the third challenge.

Confirming scoring plays can presumably be done quickly enough, maybe in commercial breaks for the most part, and most of those will be pretty obvious from the get-go. And love the coach’s challenge or hate it, it’s never made sense that even if a coach challenges bad calls twice and wins both challenges, then he’s out of challenges for the rest of the game. Then the officials can make yet another bad call and there’s nothing the coach could do about it. Now there is at least a bit of a safety net on that.

But with the lockout looming, none of these changes may matter much for a while.

At any rate, no rule change is going to get Tony Romo to concentrate long enough to win a big game, and that’s what I care about as long he’s wearing the helmet with the star on the side.