2019 NFL Rule Change Grades

Grading the NFL Rule Changes

Updated March 27, 2019
By Walt – @walterfootball

Last year, I graded nine rule changes, so I thought I would do the same this year. There are two so far this year, plus two that were rejected.

1. Accepted: Pass interference reviewable

This is the New Orleans Saints rule. Had this been implemented during the NFC Championships two months ago, the Saints would’ve beaten the Rams and played in the Super Bowl against the Patriots. New Orleans may have defeated the Patriots – Drew Brees would not have choked like Jared Goff did – and thus, Tom Brady would still have five rings instead of six. The officials influenced the course of NFL history with their incompetence.

Changing this rule was a no-brainer. There’s no reason for pass interference not to be reviewable. I understand that there are some calls that will be too close to alter, but the blatant ones like the non-call in the Saints-Rams game must be corrected.

NFL Rule Change Grade: A+

2. Accepted: Blindside blocks have been eliminated

On one hand, it sucks that the NFL is going to eliminate the bone-crushing blocks we all love. I wish it didn’t have to. However, research has shown that one-third of all concussions have come from these blind-side blocks, and that has to change.

Perhaps the league can reinstitute these blocks in the future when the league solves its concussion problem with medical advances, but it’s correct to ban them at the moment.

NFL Rule Change Grade: A

3. Rejected: Altered onside kick rules

A proposal to change how onside kicks are handled was rejected. This rule change would allow teams to attempt a pass on a fourth-and-15 play, rather than have their kickers tap the ball awkwardly as their teammates run after it and collide with the opposition.

I wish the NFL would’ve passed this rule proposal. The criticism here was that it would be too gimmicky, but is it really more gimmicky than the onside kick? If the onside kick had never existed, and the NFL proposed it right now, it would’ve been shot down immediately – especially in the wake of the new onside kick rules that ruined the conversion rates last year. Recovering onside kicks was nearly impossible in 2018, so I don’t understand why the NFL wouldn’t change things. Plus, there’s more of a chance that a concussion occurs during an onside kick than a fourth-and-15 pass attempt, so this rule change would make sense from a safety perspective as well.

NFL Rule Change Decline Grade: F

4. Rejected: Each team getting a possession in overtime

It would be ideal for each team to get at least one possession, but I think a full 10-minute quarter should be played. If the score is still tied after this extra session, the game should move to a college football-type system, except there are no first downs (except via penalty) or field goals allowed. Teams would have to go 25 or 30 yards in four downs, then the opponent would have an opportunity to do so. Each team would have to go for two as well following each touchdown.

I think this would be very exciting, and it would eliminate the stupid variance stemming from a random coin toss. I talked about a bad call altering history earlier. In the AFC Championship two months ago, the Patriots went to the Super Bowl because the coin landed on heads rather than tails. Things like that are stupid and should be eliminated.

NFL Rule Change Grade: D

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