Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NFL Overtime Rules

In this week's Monday Morning QB, Peter King takes some time to discuss some possible rule changes that owners and gm's will discuss in their upcoming meetings. I think we would all agree that even though facts might not support our argument, the NFL Overtime Rules could use a little tweaking.

PK seems to agree with that himself. He goes onto say:

I've never been a big fan of the NFL's current overtime system. Even though only 29 percent of all overtime games have been won on the first possession of extra time, that's 29 percent too often for me. NFL teams have only 16 regular-season games a year, and those games are too important for something as vital as first possession of the ball to be determined by a coin flip. The rule is madness. Both teams should have at least one crack at the ball in overtime.

So, as I read this, I'm thinking the NFL must be considering doing something drastic. Maybe they are possibly thinking of instituting College football's rule that guarentees both teams will get the ball. Right? WRONG! The change the NFL is thinking of implementing:

pushing the kickoff from the 30- to the 35-yard line.


Seriously though, I understand the concept. Apparently, the NFL wants more touchbacks during OT to prevent the team starting out with the ball the advantage of say starting at their own 40 or 50 yard line. I admit, makes sense. But I think the NFL should take this a step further. I know, I know, the facts don't dispute there's a problem, but the NFL OT system lacks one important ingredient: Excitement!

The NFL is the one sport where both teams in OT are potentially not given an equal shot. Imagine if baseball extra innings were sudden death! Imagine if an NBA overtime game was over when the first team scores a bucket. Imagine a tennis match that ends with an ace on the first serve during the tie-break. Imagine the Masters tied at the end of 72 holes and then Tiger hits his ball in first and the match is over before his opponent is even allowed the chance to drop his own birdie putt. It'd be an outrage, so why is the NFL allowed to get away with this?

I say if they're going to tweak the rules - I mean, c'mon, let's tweak them. Here are some possible options:

1) Model college's rule, but back them up say 20 or 30 yards to start. (PK says, "The NFL won't do that because the argument against the college overtime rule is that it makes a mockery of the game, eliminating the special-teams aspect.")

Ok... well then how about...

2) Playing a complete extra period - 15 minutes of non-sudden death. Winner at the end wins the game. I like this idea, but I don't think this is the solution as there are problems with this argument as well - what happens if and when their tied at the end of the first OT. This would cause OT times to really drag out. But imagine the intensity of a playoff game going into 1 maybe 2 OT sessions - isn't it exciting when NHL, or college and pro basketball games go 2 or 3 OT longs? Could this work in the NFL?

3) Have a "kick-out" - like soccer's shootout - Take the players off the field and have them kick 40 yard field goals to determine the winner. Just like soccer, a player can only kick once - how cool would this be? Start with the kickers, then the punters, then your former high school kickers, soon offensive linemen would be attempting 40 yard field goals to send their team to the playoffs. This rule could be implemented with option number 2. Play one OT period - 15 minutes - non sudden death, if we're still tied - we have a "kick-out"

4) Kick the ball from the same spot, but just guarentee both teams at least 1 possession. Even this rule is better than the current rule in my opinion.

Those are my options and I am no expert on the situation, just a guy with an opinion. I think College Football's OT system is hands down way better and that's why I say the NFL should consider making a bigger change than simply moving the ball up 5 yards on the kickoff.

PK concludes his article by saying "I'd take any change in the overtime rules, as long as it moves us closer to a fair chance for both teams to get the ball in the extra period. Discussing a tweak is a start. It's not the solution, but here's hoping that the coaches and club officials on the competition committee can, at a minimum, convince their brethren to take this first step at making overtime games more equitable."

I actually agree with him..... and hey, even that's a start.


Run Up The Score! said...

While I love the idea of the "kick out" ("here's Gilbert Brown lining up for the 40 yarder!"), I think #4 is a perfect solution. If the first team scores, let them kick it off to the opponent. If that team happens to score an equal number of points with their possession, then the game moves to sudden death.

Oh, and force the teams to go for two point conversions. No kicking extra points. I really wish college would adopt that rule starting with the first overtime period.

Mini Me said...

Interesting idea about the kick-off thing...How much would that piss off Skip Bayless? I can't see that happening though. But I do think it is reasonable for both teams to have a crack at it in Overtime, instead of Sudden Death. I actually am a huge advocate of college football's overtime. Not sure if the NFL would consider it though.

JD said...

My suggestion for overtime is pretty simple.

Each team should get at least one possession. If the first team that gets the ball scores a TD, the other team has to at least match that to keep the game going. Then you just repeat the above scenario.

If the first team that gets the ball fails to score, and the other team gets the ball and scores, the game is over.

If each team keeps matching the other team in scoring on possessions, you keep going, but once a team fails to score on their possession, the next team to score wins.

Seems like it would be easy to implement and it would work out fairly easily.

Michael said...

The one that makes the most sense: Each team gets a possesion. Coin toss, kickoff and then punt, turnover or kickoff, what is so hard about that?

Bevo said...

The argument against using the college overtime format is illogical. The NFL does not want to use it because the kickoff and punt teams would not be used.

Currently, 29% of all games end without the opponent using its OFFENSE! Somehow, the OFFENSE appears more critical to the team's success than special teams.

Hey coach, your offense could not score 6 points, but your special team gave up only 10 yards on the kick off return. Guess what? They still lost. Fortunately for the fans, they got to see the *yawn* special teams.


DigitalHeadbutt said...

Die hard soccer fans think the penalty shootout is an illegitimate way to end a game as well. I like idea #4, so the teams can't say they never got to see the ball.

Comparing an NFL touchdown or field goal to a FG in the NBA is inaccurate. Scoring in the NFL is much harder. Having more touchbacks will help. Most NFL coaches are too chicken to go for it on 4th and 4 from the opponent's 45.

GMENrule said...

I think the best you could do is have it like baseball extra innings. You could guarantee each team the same amount of possessions as the other team. The only problem could be that it isn't fair to the first possession team if the second team chooses to go for two instead of kick the PAT. You could fix this by forcing them to always kick the PAT.

Joseph said...

How about playing sudden death but instead of a coin flip, giving the ball to the team that asks for and receives worse field position: At the beginning of overtime the coaches write down where they want to start with the ball. The team that asks to start further back gets the ball at that spot.

Anonymous said...

That's a horrible idea, Joseph.