The new NFL rule changes and why the alternative onside kick isn’t one of them 🏈


The NFL season is fast approaching, though it’s still to be determined whether it will start on time and include normal 16-game schedules. Commissioner Roger Goodell is optimistic that they will be able to play the full slate of games in 2020, but NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith is not as confident.
Well, whenever the season does happen, fans will see some rule changes, which were approved this week. The proposed change to the alternative onside kick rule, which involves a team getting the opportunity to convert a fourth-and-15 play from their own 25-yard line, with a first down meaning the offense would retain possession, did not pass.
Our Jonathan Jones broke the situation down and he heard that a team owner said the wild onside kick alternative did not pass because of how unbalanced the league is in regards to the quarterback position. It’s simple: team owners who don’t have elite quarterbacks feared that it wold give the teams with the best signal callers even more of an advantage. They aren’t wrong, as stats show, but Jones still came to the conclusion that the NFL should’ve accepted the wild change. His entire analysis is worth a read.
But enough about the rule that didn’t pass, let’s dissect the ones that did. Here’s what the owners voted to approve:
  • Make permanent the expansion of the automatic replay review system to include touchdowns and/or turnovers negated by penalty
  • Expand the defenseless player protection to kick and punt returners
  • Prevent the manipulation of the game clock with multiple dead-ball fouls
  • Allow teams to bring three players back from IR rather than two
The first two and final rule changes are straight forward, but the other has a story behind it. That third one might bring NFL fans back to a Week 7 matchup between the Jets and Patriots last season. Master rulebook manipulator Bill Belichick exposed a loophole when he purposefully committed penalties while setting up to punt in order to burn time off the clock.
At the time, even Belichick admitted the rule should probably be changed, saying, “It’s a loophole that’ll be closed and probably should be closed. But right now, it’s open.”
Fans knew the rule change was likely to come in the offseason, especially after Belichick’s former player-turned-head coach Mike Vrabel used the loophole in the Titans’ AFC Divisional Round win against the Patriots.
I’m sure as you’re reading this, Bill is pouring over the rulebook, ready to find his next exploitation.

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