With the NFL’s annual owners meeting taking place in Palm Springs next week, the league’s clubs and competition committee were asked to propose potential rule or bylaw changes to be voted on. A total of five proposals were brought forward, with two of them dealing with one of the most discussed matters in the game today: overtime rules.
Whereas the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles want both teams a chance to possess the ball in extra time, the Tennessee Titans proposed a comparatively minor modification of the current rules. All in all, the three rule change proposals look as follows:
1. By Indianapolis and Philadelphia; amends Rule 16, to allow both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime.
2. By Tennessee; amends Rule 16, Section 1, Article 3, to allow both teams an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime unless the team with the first possession scores a touchdown and a successful two-point Try.
3. By Competition Committee; makes permanent the free kick formation change implemented during the 2021 season that established a maximum number of players in the setup zone.
Whereas the change to the free kick formation would be just a minor one that has already been implemented on a tryout basis last season, the proposed overtime modifications might have a considerable implication.
The current set of rules was adopted in 2011, requiring a touchdown on the first possession of overtime to end the game. If no TD is scored either on offense or by the opposing defense, a field goal would be enough to win the contest from the second possession on.
These rules have leveled the overtime playing field a bit after a field goal was all that was needed to end the game previously The winner of the coin toss now comes away victorious on just 52.4 percent of overtime games. However, that number increases to 83.3 percent in the playoffs: 10 of 12 overtime postseason games since the 2011 rule change were won by the team correctly predicting whether the coin would show heads or tails.
The New England Patriots are 2-0 in those games, beating the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI and later the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2018 AFC Championship Game. Both times the Patriots won the coin toss and marched to a game-winning touchdown.
Under the rules proposed by the Colts and Eagles, the Falcons and Chiefs would have had a chancer to answer the Patriots’ scores. The Titans’ proposal, meanwhile, would have forced New England to go for a two-point conversion after each of the touchdowns.
The 2021 playoffs saw two more overtime games, with the first sparking another debate about the current format. The Chiefs hosted the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round, with the game turning into a shootout in the fourth quarter. Kansas City won the coin toss and drove for the game-winning touchdown; Buffalo’s high-powered offensive attack did not have a chance to respond and therefore lost the game.
Just one week later, however, the Chiefs’ season ended in overtime — despite them winning the coin toss yet again. However, quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw an interception that allowed the Cincinnati Bengals to kick a field goal to win the game.
The other proposed rule changes have to do with hiring practices, both of players and executives.
1. By Competition Committee; prohibits clubs participating in the playoffs from signing players who have been terminated by clubs whose seasons have concluded.
G-1. By Baltimore, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay; amends the Anti-Tampering Policy, in regard to Secondary Football Executive positions, to allow the employer club the choice to retain its player personnel staff through the Annual Selection Meeting. After the selection meeting through June 30, the employer club is required to grant permission for another club to interview and hire a non-high-level executive or non-secondary football executive for a secondary football executive position.
For rule change proposal to pass, 24 of the league’s 32 teams need to vote in favor of it.