NFL rule changes

NFL testing new make-it, take-it rule in 2020 Pro Bowl

NFL testing new make-it, take-it rule in 2020 Pro Bowl

The NFL is testing a new rule in this year's Pro Bowl that might actually make the game worth watching.

The rule, announced Tuesday, is being presented as an alternative to onside kicks, and would help teams stage dramatic comebacks. It would be a supremely exciting addition to pro football, and would also make the game safer by limiting kickoffs. In other words, it'll probably never get the green light.

Here's a full breakdown of the test rule, per the NFL Operations website:

"Team A may elect to give Team B the ball at Team B’s 25-yard line, beginning a new series of downs with a first-and-10.

"Or, Team A may elect to take the ball at its own 25-yard line for a fourth-and-15 play.

"If Team A is successful in making a first down, Team A will maintain possession and a new series of downs will continue as normal.

"If Team A is unsuccessful in making a first down, the result will be a turnover on downs and Team B will take possession at the dead ball spot."

On top of eliminating kickoffs entirely, which is likely to become a permanent Pro Bowl staple, the rule would effectively let teams play make-it, take-it, if they can convert a long-shot gamble.

According to Brian Burke at Advanced Football Analytics, going for a 4th & 15 from your own 25-yard line is worth -2.5 expected points, which is not exactly a good-odds play. But, considering how aggressive coaches have been in recent years on fourth downs, including the Eagles' Doug Pederson, the mere option would probably lead to some interesting in-game choices.

The Broncos proposed a similar rule last offseason, though the Denver version of the rule would've allowed teams to attempt the 4th & 15 play from their own 35-yard line, rather than their own 25-yard line. The new rule makes the gamble even more intriguing, since the 25-yard line automatically places a team in field goal range.

The league's Competition Committee endorsed the Broncos' proposal last year, but owners voted it down, which is unfortunate. Hopefully, the fact that the league is testing the rule in a game, albeit the most meaningless game of the year, signals the idea isn't dead.

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Fans freaking out over NFL's new pass interference rule

Fans freaking out over NFL's new pass interference rule

In case you missed it, the NFL preseason kicked off last night with the Denver Broncos edging out the Atlanta Falcons, 14-10. While the game was insignificant, one aspect surely wasn’t. During the game, we saw the very first challenge of a pass interference call, and fans on social media were not impressed.

By a vote of 31 to 1 (the Cincinnati Bengals were the only ones opposed), the NFL owners passed a rule for the 2019 season allowing reviews on both offensive and defensive pass interference calls. Here’s a look at the very first challenge of what is sure to be one of the main talking points of the new NFL season.

If the replies to the tweet are any indication, fans are not thrilled with the new rule.

This rule was caused by the massive missed call in last year’s NFC Championship Game that saw the New Orleans Saints denied a chance to go to the Super Bowl on a missed pass interference call. 

This rule change has the opportunity to affect the outcome of a lot of games this season and beyond.

My take on this is that fans will love the rule when it helps their team and hate it when it hurts their team. While we may see a few more booth reviews, this rule shouldn’t significantly slow down the pace of play and it will ensure that correct calls are being made. We have the technology, let’s use it to make sure the correct calls are being made. 

This is the first of many times you’ll see this rule in the NFL and it’s going to be a huge deal. Let's hope it helps the Eagles more than it hurts them.

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Looking at Eagles' 2 proposed NFL rule changes, why they might want them

Looking at Eagles' 2 proposed NFL rule changes, why they might want them

The full list of proposed NFL rule changes was released on Friday night and the Eagles were involved in proposing two of the nine. Both deal with replay. 

Some changes will be removed before we get there, but the others will be voted on at the annual league meetings later this month in Phoenix. 

Let’s take a closer look at the Eagles’ proposed changes: 

The first was proposed by the Eagles, Panthers, Rams and Seahawks together: 

To amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add review of designated player safety-related fouls (called or not called on the field) as plays subject to coaches’ challenge in the instant replay system.

The first play that seems to stand out as the impetus for this rule proposal as it relates to the Eagles is the facemask penalty the refs missed on that two-point conversion against the Texans in December. Jadeveon Clowney pulled Nick Foles down by his facemask in the second quarter and it wasn’t called. Foles got as heated as I’ve ever seen him and for good reason. 

The Eagles ended up winning that game, but at the time, those two points were big. It would have pushed the Eagles’ lead to six points in the late stages of the first half in a close game. 

The next rule proposal is all Eagles: 

To amend Rule 15, Section 2, to add scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul to be subject to automatic review in the instant replay system.

The play that stands out here is the 75-yard touchdown catch from Dallas Goedert in Dallas in early December. The Eagles ended up scoring on the drive in the fourth quarter but this ridiculous OPI call on Goedert cost the Eagles a touchdown. There was just clearly no pass interference here. In fact, the Cowboys should have been called for a helmet-to-helmet penalty. 

Meanwhile, the most exciting rule changes of the entire bunch belong to the Chiefs and the Broncos. 

• The Chiefs submitted a proposal that would change overtime rules to allow both teams to get the ball at least once in overtime even if the first team scores a touchdown. Not hard to figure out why they proposed this rule. The Chiefs never got the ball back in OT against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game after Tom Brady led a 75-yard touchdown drive. 

The Broncos’ rule change proposal would eliminate onside kicks for a team trailing. Basically, it would replace the kick with a 4th-and-15 play from their own 35-yard line. It seems like Corey Graham is walking away from the NFL at the exact right moment. This rule would be bad for the Eagles, who struggled against those situations on defense in 2018. 

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