2019 Rule Change Proposals Seek To Make Everything Reviewable, End Onside Kick, Alter OT Rules

There are nine rule proposals submitted by clubs for the first round of Owners Meeting this year, including two apiece from Kansas City, Washington and Denver. Almost all of them concern the replay and review system in one way or another—with two major exceptions.

Arguably the biggest rule proposal is the first one issued by the Kansas City Chiefs, whose principle purpose is to amend Rule 16 concerning overtime to remove the part of the rule that states that a team scoring a touchdown on its opening possession would end the game. The proposal also seeks to eliminate overtime in the preseason and to do away with the overtime coin flip, reverting to the winner of the original coin flip.

The Denver Broncos offered the other significant rule proposal that offers an alternative to the onside kick—something the Alliance of American Football is already doing. In the AAF, a team trailing can take possession of the football automatically in its own end, but it will be fourth and 12.

All of the other seven proposals deal with replay in some way. One of them wants to make all try attempts subject to automatic review, while another wants all fourth-down spots to be subject automatic review. Still another wants touchdowns and turnovers that were negated by penalty to be treated to automatic review in the same way as though there were no penalty.

Several teams offered the proposal that would make player safety-related fouls, whether they were called on the field or not, subject to review. This means that if a roughing the passer penalty were called, a team could challenge the ruling on the field to have it overturned. Or they could challenge that a foul should have been called.

The Chiefs proposed that all personal fouls, whether they were called on the field or not, be subject to a coach’s challenge, while Washington proposed that personal fouls be deemed reviewable plays. These two pretty much go hand-in-hand, though Kansas City’s goes further.

Finally, Washington’s other proposal was the most expansive of all, and inevitable, seeking to make all plays subject to a coach’s challenge or by booth review. While the sense is that the conversation has ‘moved forward’ a few years, there is still not enough support league-wide for this to go through.

One proposal that I’m surprised didn’t come through a team was to introduce a designated replay official who would monitor the game from a booth and could serve as a real-time corrective measure to overturn egregious errors. This is something that the AAF is experimenting with. Perhaps by 2020 the NFL will take a look at how these things worked out there. Or even later this year, since this is only the first Owners Meeting of the offseason.

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