The NFL is set to hold its annual owner’s meetings next week in Phoenix, where 17 rule changes and five bylaw changes will be up for discussion. The proposals were put forward by individual teams and the league’s competition committee, and will be voted on by the 32 owners. To pass, each proposal will need at least 24 votes.
Among the changes being considered are revisions to penalties, replay, coaches’ challenges, jersey numbers, kickoffs, and playoff seeding. However, one notable proposal that won’t be discussed is the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback push play, which had been rumored to be on the docket after reports surfaced in February.
Before 2006, players were not allowed to push or pull ball carriers, but the NFL removed that rule. Teams like the Eagles now use the technique in short-yardage situations, such as on the goal line or on fourth down. The push play will not be addressed at the upcoming meetings despite its controversial nature.
Proposed Rule Changes For 2023
Replay, penalties, and coaches’ challenges:
Replay rules could be subject to significant changes as the NFL prepares to discuss several proposals put forward by teams ahead of the annual owner’s meetings next week in Phoenix.
Three teams, in particular, have submitted five rule changes related to replay. The Los Angeles Rams have suggested that roughing-the-passer penalties be reviewed by officials and/or by coaches’ challenge. This proposal is unsurprising given the high number of controversial roughing calls during the past season.
The Detroit Lions have proposed a rule that would allow officials to consult on penalty enforcement, while the Houston Texans want officials to be able to review failed fourth-down attempts. The New York Jets, on the other hand, are advocating for an expansion of the “crackback block” penalty for players in motion and blocking past the center, while the competition committee wants to make tripping a personal foul.
The Lions have also proposed that coaches be permitted to challenge personal fouls and that teams earn a third challenge if they win only one of their challenges instead of both. These proposals will be put forward to the 32 owners for voting, and each will need at least 24 votes to pass.
The competition committee has proposed two changes to the NFL kickoff rules. The first proposal would see the ball moved from the 20- to the 25-yard line on a touchback punt. The second proposal would allow a fair catch on a free kick (kickoff or safety kick) up to the 25-yard line.
The Philadelphia Eagles have also put forward a daring alternative rule that would allow a scoring team to maintain possession of the ball instead of kicking it off. Under this proposal, a team would get a fourth-and-20 play at their own 20-yard line, but only if they were losing and had already used the rule no more than twice in one game. This rule is reminiscent of the successful onside kick, but with the added risk of starting all the way back at your own 20-yard line on fourth down. The XFL has recently implemented a similar rule.
Emergency Third QB
The Detroit Lions have proposed a new rule that would allow teams to designate a third quarterback from their inactive list or practice squad to play in a game if both of the team’s active quarterbacks are ruled out. This proposal comes in response to a recent incident during the NFC championship game when the San Francisco 49ers were forced to play an injured Brock Purdy and almost had to play running back Christian McCaffrey under center. The 49ers also lost backup Josh Johnson to a concussion in the game, and the team had already lost Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries in the weeks prior.
The NFL stopped requiring teams to dress three quarterbacks in 2011, and teams have largely stopped doing so. However, after the recent incidents, both teams and the league may reconsider this rule. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already endorsed the proposed rule change, which would allow teams to keep a third quarterback inactive unless an injury necessitates calling them up. If passed, the rule could have a significant impact on how teams approach quarterback depth and injury management.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Philadelphia Eagles planned to propose a rule that would allow players to wear the number zero (“0”) on their jerseys. While the seriousness of the proposal was unknown at the time, it has since been added to the docket for the upcoming owners’ meeting.
If passed, the proposed rule would allow quarterbacks, placekickers, punters, defensive backs, running backs, and linebackers to wear the number zero. Additionally, placekickers and punters would be allowed to wear any number they choose.
This proposal has been met with mixed reactions from fans and analysts alike. Some see it as a way to bring a fresh new look to the game, while others believe it would be confusing and difficult for fans to keep track of who is who on the field.
The Los Angeles Chargers have proposed a significant change to the NFL playoffs by suggesting that wild-card teams could earn a higher playoff seed than division winners. Under the current system, the top four seeds go to the winners of each of the four divisions, and the remaining three seeds go to wild-card teams based on conference standings and tiebreakers.
The Chargers’ proposal would allow a higher seed for a wild-card team if they finish the regular season with at least four more wins than a divisional winner, and the divisional winner finishes with a record below .500. If this rule had been in place last season, the Dallas Cowboys would have earned the fourth seed in the NFC over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the Buccaneers winning the NFC South with an 8-9 record, the Cowboys had four more wins and would have hosted a playoff game as the higher seed. This change could potentially level the playing field for teams that have a strong record but are stuck in a tough division.