NFL League Meetings: Overtime, Turnover Replay Rules Added

The 2012 NFL League Meeting kicks off on Monday and lasts all week. Among the topics of discussion are a number of potential rules changes.

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NFL Rule Changes: So What About Challenge Flags?

The NFL took a good step on Wednesday, when they brought the playoff overtime rules to the regular season and added automatic review of all turnovers. While there's more rule changes to be considered in May, there are two big questions just begging to be asked in that vein. Let's take a look at those questions, though we've got a fair bit more insight on one than the other.

Why not immediately institute the new overtime rules in the regular season to begin with?

How did it make even an atom's worth of sense that the new overtime rules immediately applied to the most important games, the playoffs, and not the regular season? It's not as though there's 60+ games to play in the regular season and that these rules would have a limited impact or something ... there's 16 in the regular season and one game decides multiple teams' fates every single year.

We haven't even seen the rules in action, and can't actually have an opinion on how they work. Two seasons of those rules being implemented in the playoffs have led to nothing. The only time we've reached the playoffs since the new rules happened, the Denver Broncos scored a touchdown on the first play. The rules weren't needed. So now the NFL has suddenly decided that yes, the rules do work, so bring them in for the full season! It's just a weird exercise, as this should have already happened.

So what about challenge flags, then?

Since all turnovers are now automatically reviewed, the top two things that are generally challenged are now subject to automatic review. Every time there's a touchdown or a turnover, the referees and booth will confirm that it was, in fact, a score or a turnover. That's productive, helpful and it makes a lot of sense, providing it doesn't considerably slow the game down.

That being said, what about the challenge flag? Some have asked what they're used for, and the biggest answer is that it probably means that coaches will be more inclined to challenge the spot of the ball. Every single game has at least one, but usually more, bad spot that hurts one team. It's, at this point, a "part of the game." In the past, coaches have wanted to keep their challenges, in the event they need to use it on a score or a turnover. But now they can use them more often without having to worry, leading to getting, how you say, "screwed" less.

It also means that the NFL could review the things that are up for challenge. As it stands, there's the overarching rule of "you can't challenge a flag," despite the fact that there's already exceptions to this rule. Some will remember the Michael Crabtree touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals last season, and how he was flagged for an illegal touch because he went out of bounds. The rules state you can challenge a boundary call, which Jim Harbaugh figured you could, but in their stricter definitions, the play was actually un-challengeable.

But even a league official said it was a good play to challenge. The NFL has this huge rulebook and so many loopholes. Each team has a finite number of challenges, and, generally speaking, those challenges get used. It's not making the game much longer and it's not an issue. So why even limit what can be challenged anyway?

Make it to where you can challenge those idiotic 60 yard pass interference calls. Have the head referee take a good look at it and make the judgement call with it all laid out in slow motion that the referee on the field struggled with at game speed. Or, make it to where those helmet-to-helmet hits that are being penalized worse and worse each year are challenge-able.

The refereeing in the NFL was worse in 2011 than any other in recent memory. They can't keep up with the game's speed, mostly when it comes to helmet-to-helmet. Where's the issue in making that a challenge-able play? Make those challenges burn a hole in the coach's pocket. The only things that shouldn't be challenge-able are unsportsmanlike conduct and things of that nature.


NFL Rule Changes: Overtime, Challenge Rules Tweaked, Roster Changes Possible

It's been a lot more than R &R at the NFL Owners meeting in Palm Beach, FL this year as the owners recently agreed on some sweeping rule changes that will go into place this following season. Here's a quick look at just what the rules are and how they affect they league:

The playoff overtime rules have been installed for the 2012 regular season, which goes a little something like this:

"The modified system of determining the winner shall prevail when the score is tied at the end of regulation for postseason NFL games [now all NFL games]. The system guarantees each team a possession or the opportunity to possess, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession.

"At the end of regulation time, the Referee will immediately toss a coin at the center of the field in accordance with rules pertaining to the usual pregame toss. The captain of the visiting team will call the toss prior to the coin being flipped.

"Following a three-minute intermission after the end of the regulation game, play will be continued in 15-minute periods until a winner is declared. Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal, or touchdown) or when a score is awarded by the Referee for a palpably unfair act. Each team has three timeouts per half and all general timing provisions apply as during a regular-season game. The try is not attempted if a touchdown is scored. Disqualified players are not allowed to return."

The new overtime rules got their first test drive with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants in this year's NFC Championship game, though didn't really affect the outcome in the end.

It also went into effect that all turnovers and scoring plays will become subject to review, a loss of down penalty will be added for illegally kicking a loose football, too many men on the field becomes a dead-ball foul, and any player considered to have taken a 'crackback' block will be seen as a defenseless player.

There are still a few rules out there waiting to get ruled upon, which likely won't happen until May:

  • Modify the roster rules for teams having to play on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Move the trade deadline from Week 6 to Week 8.
  • Expand the roster limit for training camp and the offseason to 90 players.
  • Move this year's final roster cutdown day to Friday night instead of Saturday, giving an extra day of work for the two teams playing in the first game of the season.
  • Add an injured reserve exemption so that if a player was on the roster through the first regular season weekend, that player can be placed on injured reserve and designated for return, eliminating that fact that all players on injured reserve are out for the season.
  • Allow one roster exemption per team per week for a player who is inactive with a concussion.

For more on the NFL's rules, check out SB Nation's dedicated NFL hub. For more on the San Francisco 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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NFL League Meetings: Owners to Vote On Rule, Roster, and Scheduling Changes Wednesday

NFL Owners have been sequestered in meetings this week to discuss the state of affairs in the NFL - rules, scheduling, compensatory picks, the NFL Draft, free agency, bylaws - you name it. The owners are expected to announce their decisions on the proposed rules changes on Wednesday at some point, and in case you were wondering, per ProFootballTalk, the rules changes being discussed this week are the following:

1. Giving the authority to determine replay reviews to the replay official in the booth, not the referee on the field.

2. Modifying the horse-collar tackle rule to remove the exception for quarterbacks in the pocket, so that a quarterback in the pocket may not be yanked down by the back of his shoulder pads or inside collar of his jersey.

3. Changing overtime so that the postseason rule will be used in the regular season as well, and no regular-season games will be ended on a field goal on the first possession of overtime.

4. Adding a loss of down to the penalty for kicking a loose ball, as is the case in college football.

5. Adopting the college rule for too many men on the field, which is a dead-ball foul if a team lines up on offense for more than three seconds, or if a team on defense lines up with too many men and the snap is imminent. In those cases, the officials will blow the play dead and assess a five-yard penalty. This change wouldn't affect the rulings on players running off the field who don't get off in time.

6. Expanding the defenseless player rule to protect defensive players on crackback blocks, making it illegal to hit them in the head or neck area.

7. Automatically reviewing turnovers via instant replay, just as scoring plays are automatically reviewed.

The league is also considering altering or adding a few bylaws, which can be seen at that PFW article, and have to do with roster size and the injured reserve.

Also, another point of contention came up on Tuesday night, and it looks like the league may be looking to make a change to scheduling, particularly as it pertains to Thursday night games.

This makes a lot of sense, as teams that play Thursday night games already lose two full days of practice, and in some cases, more. Last season, the 49ers went into Baltimore on a Thursday night Thanksgiving game on basically two days of practice and lost, 16-6. This rule would help mitigate that hardship for teams playing distant opponents.

It will be interesting to see what they decide. Stay with us today as we update this stream when the news hits.


San Francisco 49ers Receive No Compensatory Draft Picks

The San Francisco 49ers are a good team that hasn't had any recent huge free agent losses, so it's not a huge surprise that they didn't end up with any compensatory draft picks. Compensatory draft picks are only handed out to the teams that lose the most free agents, and San Francisco has had a clean sheet. Seattle and Arizona also both didn't receive any draft picks, and only St. Louis received any picks from among the NFC West teams (the Raiders, by contrast, picked up three).

However, the 49ers are in good shape for each round regardless, with one draft pick coming in each round. Here is the current approximate draft order.

Round 1 - Pick 30
Round 2 - Pick 30
Round 3 - Pick 29
Round 4 - Pick 30
Round 5 - Pick 30
Round 6 - Pick 29
Round 7 - Pick 30

To discuss the lack of compensatory draft picks with 49ers fans, hit up Niners Nation.


2012 NFL Draft: Oakland Raiders Receive 3rd, 4th, 5th Round Compensatory Picks

It's not a bad day at all to be an Oakland Raiders fan. They're going to get more young players to draft, and they won't have to wait until the fifth round anymore!

Oakland ended up with three more picks from the compensatory rounds. The Raiders will receive the 95th pick from the third round, the 129th pick from the fourth round, and the 168th pick from the fifth round. The third round pick is now the first pick the Raiders have in this year's draft, as opposed to the fifth round pick the Raiders originally possessed. The Raiders also have a sixth rounder.

That is better than their counterparts the 49ers, who received no draft picks at all. On the other hand, San Francisco already has a full draft board available to them, so it's not like they ever needed any compensatory picks like Oakland did.

To discuss the situation with Raiders fans, head to Silver and Black Pride.


NFL League Meeting: Competition Committee Will Discuss Potential Rule Changes

The 2012 NFL League Meeting kicks off on Monday and lasts all week. Among the topics of discussion are a number of potential rules changes.

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