The NFL has had a rough year full of on- and off-the-field issues and made it part of their agenda to address those hot-button topics. So did they come up with a system to deal with players involved in instances of domestic violence? Or maybe they tackled the ability to have balls deflated? Nope. Nothing was more imperative to the sanctity of “preserving the shield” than addressing the audacity of kickers making the extra point too often. In turn, the owners agreed to move the extra point kick 15 yards.
While the move provides more of a challenge to kickers, the sentiment is weak in its approach. The NFL needs to dust off it’s shoulder pads and adapt some new rules to really grab the attention of the next century.
The long standing practice of the English Premier League (aka the other football) takes the lowest performing team and moves them to another league, while promoting the top team in that lesser league to face the big boys in the EPL. Although the NFL doesn’t really have a system in place with a minor league team, why not just use the Arena Football League? The wonky little brother of the NFL that was set out in the Xtreme late ’90s and left out in the sun, watching a team with the gimmicks of the AFL attempt to run with a real NFL team would make for wild entertainment.
15 yards for this, 15 yards for that. When the game puts such a premium on real estate it plays out like gentrification with helmets. If the NFL took a page out of hockey and placed a player in a penalty box for a set period of time, even just the next play, the stakes are instantly raised, the fans can shower blame on a single player and chaos could take over at any moment. But be realistic, only use the penalty box for personal foul penalties that would have cost a hockey player as well.
Pace Of Play
To bring baseball up to speed, this year MLB had implemented a Pace of Play rule. No longer can batters and pitchers take an eternity to stare at each other, hoping to break the rhythm of their swing and pitch. Although the NFL already has a play clock in place, they should shake things up by forcing quicker play in the last two minutes. The Two Minute Drill, the vaulted bastion of football drama has been a standard in play books for years. Teams use the opportunity to unleash effective and time saving plays for a chance to score. If the PAT is stale, the two minute drill is practically moldy. Set the play clock shorter, move things along because some of us actually want to do something on Sundays.
If the Pace of Play idea sounds up your alley, then I suggest we add to it but forcing a shot clock. Sure the smashmouth football technique of killing time off the clock and grinding it out is a foundational tool of the football mindset, but forcing quarterbacks to chuck it into the end zone every 35 seconds would create defensive schemes full of cornerbacks and safetys. The receiving core would be wiped out within a couple of plays, but the creation of limitations could breed an entirely new kind of football player. Entire positions could be created just for the shot-clock era. Track and field programs in colleges would be bought wholesale for those rare, “We’re on our own five-yard line, but we have five seconds left on the shot clock” scenarios. The establishment of “Play the Right Way” would crumble within seconds.