ORLANDO, Fla. — The NFL set scoring and yardage records last season — the league loves that — and had all the hallmarks of competitive balance, including 48% of games that were decided by seven points or fewer, the fourth-most in history.
But, as is typical this time of year, there's a push from teams to further tweak the rules.
The ideas might be legitimate improvements, or maybe just superfluous tinkering, but that's for team owners to decide at this week's annual meetings, a three-day event at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Orlando.
The league's competition committee will present several proposed changes to team owners for a vote, among them these three from the New England Patriots:
• Moving the line of scrimmage for extra-point kicks to the 25 to make the current gimme a more challenging play. There were five missed PATs last season, four of which were blocked. The competition committee is proposing that extra points be moved back to the 20 for all games in one week of the exhibition season as a dry run.
It would be a surprise if the vote were successful to make such a dramatic change such as permanently moving the PATs — at least right away.
"These things traditionally take time," said Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee. "It is good this discussion is being held with respect to the extra point. It is what we do." But, he cautioned, "when we looked at the overtime rules and the discussion that went on, that was a number of years before that rule was really changed."
• Putting fixed cameras on all boundary lines — the sideline, goal line and end line — to supplement TV cameras and guarantee coverage of those lines for replays, no matter where the TV cameras are located.
• Permitting a coach to challenge any officiating decision, except scoring plays, which already are reviewed.
The Washington Redskins have asked that the league consider moving the kickoff to the 40-yard line for safety reasons, the theory being that would lead to more touchbacks and therefore fewer returns; expanding replay to include playbacks of personal fouls; and, an especially sensible one, eliminating overtime in exhibition games.
The NFL is also thinking outside the (replay) box. That means a proposal to bring in an extra set of eyes on particularly close plays by using an officiating command center at league headquarters in New York.
The competition committee is recommending the officiating change and says the process will not change, except that the review will be conducted simultaneously in New York. It's unclear who will break the tie if officials on the field and in the command center draw different conclusions.
"At the end of the day, what's going to happen is we're going to make sure that every single review is correct," said committee member Jeff Fisher, coach of the St. Louis Rams. "We feel like this will speed up the instant-replay process and timing."
NFL owners will also discuss expanding the playoff field by two teams, starting in the 2015 season. However, it's uncertain whether there will be a vote on that proposal at these meetings.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times