by Will Brinson Senior NFL Blogger
The NFL passed two key rule changes on Wednesday at the owners meetings in Florida, changing the regular-season overtime rules to reflect the rules in place in the postseason, and putting all turnovers to replay.
The first move is just logic: last year was the first season with new overtime rules in the postseason, where a team couldn't win on its first possession simply by kicking a field goal. That rule was, for some reason, not in place during the regular season.
Additionally, all turnovers will be reviewed beginning in 2012. That means challenges will not be used for any turnovers or scoring plays beginning next season.
The idea proposed by the Bills, to take all replay and put it in the booth, did not pass. Also not passing: an extended trade deadline, changing the bylaws of the IR rule and a roster-size ruling.
Those three issues were tabled until May.
The NFL also passed three other changes to the current rules. One, kicking a loose ball now also includes a loss of down penalty. Two, a penalty for too many men in the huddle is now a dead-ball foul. And three, anyone who is subject to a crack-back block is now added to the list of defenseless players.
Are these new rules welcome additions? Absolutely. It was silly to have different rules for the regular and postseason when it comes to overtime. It creates confusion with fans, players (ahem, Donovan McNabb) and requires excessive work to explain what's happening.
The Bills suggestion that all replay be handled in the booth is actually a good one, and it's a shame it didn't pass. Taking the pressure off the zebra under the hood wouldn't be a negative thing. However, it's a good start to get all turnovers reviewed -- that means coaches don't have to gamble on a fumble that might not be a fumble, particularly when it should be obvious. Turnovers are so critical that they almost require a challenge in many cases, and that's simply not fair.