Competition Committee Addresses Rule Changes at Upcoming NFL Owners Meeting

The NFL's competition committee talked about a few items that are and aren't on the agenda for the 2009 season as the NFL's Annual Owner's Meeting looms (March 22-25).

Here a few topics that were discussed in the conference call with Falcons President and Competition Committee Co-Chairman Rich McKay and NFL Executive VP of Football Operations Ray Anderson.

Expiring Play Clock and the Referees

During a key 3rd down in the playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans, Joe Flacco snapped the ball right as the play clock expired which resulted in a momentum changing conversion.

The problem? Replays showed the play clock read 0 before Flacco got the snap off. With a replay system implemented for a play like this, the play would have been called back and the Ravens penalized five yards.

The NFL's competition committee said teams sent in upwards of three dozen controversial instances like this. However, they say there were only two situations in which the call was obvious and would have been overturned in the instance that replay could be used.

The competition committee said it has no plans of giving the referees a buzzer when the play clock expires. They like the current system and have no plans on changing it.

Increasing the Roster during Training Camp

Nearly a year ago, we talked about how the elimination of NFL Europe would hurt teams across the league. NFL Europe provided roster exemptions that allowed teams to accommodate upwards of 90 players during training camp instead of 80 (the current number).

I argued that limiting the roster size during training camp lessened the overall talent pool in the NFL and provided an injury risk to veterans who would otherwise be giving up their reps to another training camp body.

Despite the argument of expanding the roster size during training camp, the competition committee has no plans to alter the current rules.

More on Roster Size

Like I mentioned above, the current system allows for 80 players during training camp. The current system moves the roster cuts from 80 then to 75 then 53.

I always wondered what the point of the first five cuts were.

Apparently the competition committee is wondering the same thing and they'll review whether to eliminate the first set of five cuts and move to an 80 to 53 man cutdown.

NFL Draft Order

This past season saw an 8-8 division winner (San Diego) beat a 12-4 wild card (Indianapolis). The Chargers made it to the divisional round of the playoffs and the Colts were one and done.

But the Chargers are drafting 16th while the Colts are drafting 27th.

There's an argument for both sides but the NFL has decided to stick with the current system that places draft order based on records (save the final two spots in the round which are for the Super Bowl winner and runner-up).

Moving to a 17 or 18 Game Schedule

The competition committee hasn't made a formal recommendation to the NFL on this but did acknowledge that it will be discussed with the owners and players' union in the upcoming discussions on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The 'Ed Hochuli' Rule

Early in the 2008 season, the Chargers lost to the Broncos due in large part to a blown call by referee Ed Hochuli. If you'll remember, Hochuli ruled a pass by Jay Cutler as incomplete when really it was a fumble and recovered by the Chargers. The Broncos of course scored on the next play and won the game.

The NFL will look at the rule that didn't allow Hochuli to use replay to review the play.

If you'll remember, the original replay rules didn't allow referees to review down-by-contact but was later changed. The competition committee is looking at possibly changing the current rule in a similar fashion.

No Change to Overtime Rules

The competition committee said after lengthy surveys by all the NFL teams, there won't be a change to the current overtime structure, which leaves open the possibility of one team not even getting the opportunity to touch the ball in overtime.

McKay said there wasn't enough support from across the league to warrant a change.

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