In what is nothing more than an odd coincidence, four significant rule-change proposals have been offered up by three 2019 Bears opponents.
The Kansas City Chiefs handed in a pair of proposals, the first of which would bring sweeping changes to how overtime is played. Under Kansas City’s proposal to amend Rule 16, both teams would be given an opportunity to have offensive possession of the ball in overtime – even if the first team scores a touchdown on its first overtime possession. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as the overtime shake-up is concerned. The Chiefs also offered up a proposal to eliminate the overtime coin-flip, which would allow the winner of the game’s opening toss to choose whether they want to kick or receive or which end zone they want to defend. And in a proposal I think everyone can get behind, Kansas City has also requested an elimination of overtime in the preseason.
Sure, the Chiefs’ proposed overhaul of overtime comes months after their postseason elimination against the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots, but I struggle to find a neutral party who didn’t want to see Patrick Mahomes get a chance to match Tom Brady’s scoring drive in what was an instant classic playoff game. Changing these particular overtime rules would make sense from a competitive standpoint, as well as from a fan-enjoyment perspective. Here’s hoping it gets rubber-stamped and OK’d.
Speaking of playoff-inspired rule changes, Kansas City also submitted a request to add review of personal foul calls (both called and not called on the field) to be subject to coaches challenges in the replay system. I’d bet Saints Head Coach Sean Payton would be a staunch supporter of that rule change after seeing how his team ended up on the short end of a blatant missed call in a playoff game. The Chiefs’ proposal was one of seven that called for the expansion of instant replay, with the most notable coming from Washington, which proposed for all plays to be subject to coaches challenges. It’s a bold ask, but I hope the league is willing to hear it out.
The other major proposal not related to replay came from the Denver Broncos, who are requesting the elimination of an onside kick in exchange for an intriguing alternative. Denver’s proposal would allow teams that score in the fourth quarter can have one opportunity to convert a 4th-and-15 from its own 35-yard-line in order to retain possession. This rule would be similar to what the Alliance of American Football has as its onside alternative. The Alliance has done away with kickoffs altogether, so instead of an onside kick try, teams trailing with five minutes or less left in the fourth quarter can try to convert a 4th-and-12 try from its own 28-yard-line. It’s innovative … and it could catch on the NFL.
The NFL’s competition will get together and finalize possible changes during the annual League Meetings from March 24-27 in Phoenix. Here’s hoping positive changes are around the corner for the NFL in 2019.