Mac Engel

NFL competition committee should have a busy off-season

The NFL needs to rewrite its rulebook so plays such as Dez Bryant’s catch-ruled-no-catch against the Packers doesn’t happen again.
The NFL needs to rewrite its rulebook so plays such as Dez Bryant’s catch-ruled-no-catch against the Packers doesn’t happen again. Star-Telegram

When the NFL competition committee convenes this off-season at a swanky resort to congratulate itself, and after it rewrites the Calvin-Dez Rule, there are a few other rule modifications that need to be tweaked, too.

The NFL could do as Troy Aikman advised in Sports Illustrated recently and simply “blow up” an NFL rule book that is beginning to look as simple as the tax code. Because blowing up the NFL rule book won’t be happening any time soon — i.e., ever — the league would be wise not only to redo the Calvin-Dez Rule but make a few additional improvements before the 2015 season begins.

The next time NFL VP of league officiating Dean Blandino (or Blunderdino) boards Jerry Jones’ party bus it’s going to be awkward enough, but there are ways to prevent and ensure future meetings will be pleasant, and “fruitful.”

Watching these playoffs only reinforces there are a few things that need to be done, which is where I step in with Mac’s Omniscient Magic Red Sharpie.

No. 1: Overtime

Why is this still even a discussion? The NFL is committed to points and scoring, and in keeping with that it needs to make sure both offenses touch the ball in any overtime period.

The Green Bay Packers did not lose to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game on Sunday because they lost the coin flip. The Packers had only a dozen previous chances to close out the Seahawks in Seattle before carefully devising a gag that eclipses Al Gore’s loss to Randy Galloway’s good buddy George W. in the 2000 presidential election as this century’s biggest choke. (Seriously, how was that even close?)

The Packers never touched the ball in overtime, and instead watched the Seahawks glide down the field to score the game-winner. The counter to this, of course, is that the Packers defense had the chance to stop the Seahawks. The NFL is entirely about scoring, and in keeping with that philosophy, both teams need to touch the ball on offense once.

Aaron Rodgers and his buddies on offense should have had a chance to answer the OT opening touchdown. According to NFL rule, if the team that starts on offense scores a touchdown to open the overtime, it’s game over. What the stupid?

The NFL does not need to adopt college football’s overtime policy, but there should always be a top-/bottom-inning element to overtime. The league has slowly phased out Sudden Death and allows both teams the chance to match, unless ... the first team with the ball scores a touchdown. Get rid of that.

Both offenses should get the ball once.

Let it be so...

No. 2: One foot in bounds

The college game allows pass catchers to touch one foot in bounds with possession to qualify as a catch. The NFL states both feet must be in bounds ... or, if you are Dez Bryant, you need four feet down to complete a football move.

If the NFL is going to be about scoring, the league should allow receivers to catch the ball and put one foot down for a catch. It would make for a few more exciting plays.

Let it be so...

No. 3: Quarterbacks are allowed to be hit

During the New England Patriots’ boring romp over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game, Tom Brady was hit cleanly by a Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman after he released the ball late in the first half. The hit was well within the spirit of the rules. But the ref threw the flag for roughing the passer, and the Patriots kept moving the ball down the field.

This penalty, and the alleged Case of Deflated Balls by Pats coach Bill Belicheat, were not going to alter the outcome in Foxboro, but some of these calls are well beyond ridiculous. No one wants injuries, or concussions, but the league has to address the contact issue. No will rule can prevent contact, injuries, or lawsuits.

The players know the deal, and if at this point they are unaware of the potential consequences of playing then they are stupid.

Quarterbacks are, from time to time, going to get hit. Don’t penalize it.

Let it be so...

No. 4: No more carrying ball carriers

Speaking of Brady, on a fourth-and-1 in the first half, he called a sneak where he was clearly stopped. But fullback James Develin literally pushed Brady from behind deeper into the mass of bodies for the first down.

Start enforcing forward progress is over when the ball carrier is stopped and not when the ball carrier and three of his teammates are done pushing him. This would create closer fourth-down plays, and potentially eliminate the back-of-the-pile shoving.

Let it be so...

No. 5 Two points for both teams on two-point conversions

Watching a defender intercept a two-point conversion attempt only to drop the ball to end the play is anticlimactic. On the off chance the defense creates a turnover on this play, let them see if they can take it the other way for two points of their own. This play exists in college, and it should in the NFL.

Let it be so...

BTW: Rewrite the Calvin-Dez Rule today.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30-10 a.m. with Shan & RJ on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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