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Archive for the 'Rule Change Proposals' Category

NFL Kickoff rule changes: Impact on offense

23rd March 2011

Yesterday, 26 of the league's 32 owners voted to change the NFL's kickoff rules, moving the placement of the ball from the 30- to the 35-yard line.

[Leon] Washington and others around the league said the change, made to address player-safety issues, would breed more touchbacks and substantially impact field position, likely leading to less scoring.

"There just won't be as many returns, and I think it's going to affect things like scoring, and there'll be more of an emphasis on directional kicking ...," Cincinnati Bengals special-teams coach Darrin Simmons told his team's official website. "There are going to be more touchbacks and more 80-yard drives, and scoring drops sharply because there are a lot more scoring drives of 70 yards than drives over 80."

Touchbacks will continue to be brought out to the 20, and teams still will be allowed to use the two-man blocking wedge.

Fan reaction has been mostly negative. Cries about player safety from fans discussing an 18-game schedule have turned into cries about "ruining the game" when it comes to minimizing special teams. In reality, most of these complaints are due to a general resistance to change, with whatever the flavor du jour serving as a comfortable red herring.

But what about the claim that this will decrease scoring? Nate Dunleavy agrees:

A league-wide reduction in offense. Because even the worst special teams units generally start on the good side of the 20 after kickoffs (I believe Indy started around the 22), an increase in touchbacks will move average starting field position backwards for all NFL teams. Teams with good return games will be hurt more than teams with bad return games, but all teams should see their average starting field position go backwards, even Indy. There is a very strong relationship between starting field position and the points a team can expect to score. The cumulative effect of dozens of extra touchbacks will be a reduction in scoring. As noted, the Colts should feel this pinch far less than most teams, as it will likely affect their starting field position after kickoffs by less than a yard or so.

I'm not so sure I agree with Nate; while teams receiving a kickoff may be less likely to score, by definition, teams kicking off will be more likely to score next. In reality, this rule change is sure to have little actual impact on scoring, but that doesn't mean we can't engage in a quick thought exercise. Let's take this rule change to the extreme: suppose instead of teams kicking off from the 30-yard line, from now on the opposing team gets possession of the ball at their own 7-yard line. How would that impact play?

At the start of every half, and following every touchdown and field goal, instead of getting a chance to receive and return a kickoff, a team is placed in the shadow of their own goal-posts. How would this impact scoring? It's obvious that it would make scoring more difficult for the "receiving" team. However, it would make scoring less difficult for the "kicking" team. How do those elements balance out?

We assume that following a kickoff, a team will start its drive at, on average, the 27-yard line. According to David Romer, that is worth 0.7 points to the offensive team. Having the ball at your own 7-yard line is worth 0.6 points to the defensive team. In that case, the team on offense is less likely to score than its opponent. For the offense, this hypothetical rule change would cost it 1.3 points following each kickoff compared to where things stand today.

Now, scoring a touchdown is worth 6.3 points, on average. Under this scenario, a touchdown is worth 7.6 points. Considering that last season there were 9.6 kickoffs per game, this would be a serious change to the way the game is played. However, does that *necessarily* mean less scoring? Couldn't it mean even more scoring? Or would it be a zero-sum game, where if one team scores less the other scores more?
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Posted in Rule Change Proposals | 12 Comments »

Checkdowns, Rants: Rookie Wage Scale

7th January 2011

Jason Lisk (f/k/a JKL of the PFR Blog) continues to kill it over at the Big Lead. You can read all of Jason's work here, and I highly advise you to do so. His latest piece? A large rant against the idea of a rookie wage scale in the NFL. Jason, Doug and I are in the tiny minority of NFL fans who don't think rookies are overpaid, even the most highly drafted ones. My favorite piece in his article today? A link to a sportswriter complaining in April that Ndamukong Suh was going to recieve similar guaranteed money to Albert Haynesworth. What an injustice!

We've discussed this on the PFR blog before. In February 2009, Jason wrote that some proof that first round picks, as a group, are not overpaid. In May 2008, I came up with a modern Draft Pick Value Chart, which confirmed my believe that the top rookies are not overpaid. Brian Burke wrote an insightful article on how NFL players are gladiators, not bricklayers, and I believe Burke is with the PFR Crew w/r/t rookie salaries.

And then, today, I got bored and did a tongue-in-cheek rant over at the Footballguys message boards. You can read it and follow the anticipated ridiculous comments here, but I'll re-post it as well below:

How in the world can it be justified to pay Jim Harbaugh 7 or 8 million dollars are you? Are you kidding me? Putting aside that, ya know, that's more money than most people will make in their entire lives, what has Harbaugh done to deserve it? He did a good job coaching in a decent conference in college? He never even won his conference! Yet all of the sudden he's somehow worthy of one of the richest contracts in NFL history?

Mike Tomlin has won a Super Bowl and has Pittsburgh as an annual contender, and he's making 4.8 million per year. Jeff Fisher, one of the most respected coaches in the league, is making just shy of 6 million per year. Tom Coughlin, after he won the freakin Super Bowl, is making just over 5 mill per year. How in the world can you justify paying Jim Harbaugh more than all of them? More than Bill Belichick, who's making 7.5 per year?

It's just absurd. Harbaugh's a college guy who hasn't proven a single thing in the NFL. Why not make him PROVE his worth first, then pay him? Wouldn't a 3-year, 6 million dollar deal still put him in the top .0001% of rich people and not cripple the franchise if he's a bust? If Harbaugh's actually a good NFL coach, surely his next contract would be in the 6-7 million dollar a year range. So if he's a good coach, he'll make a ton of money. If he's a bad coach, he'll still make good money but not crazy money. Why won't Roger Goodell step in and do something about this? As an average NFL fan, I have to say it turns me off to the whole sport to see an unproven whippersnapper like Harbaugh come in and make more money than my family will make for generations. For coaching freakin' football. Make him prove it, then pay him. Isn't that how every other industry in the world works?

Please, NFL and Goodell, do something.

Posted in Checkdowns, Rant, Rule Change Proposals | 10 Comments »

18 Game Schedule Proposal: Flex Conference Games

19th June 2009

I’m going to jump the gun a little here. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether the NFL should remain with a 16-game schedule or expand the regular season to 18 games. I don’t know what the right answer is here. There is a limit to how many games of football can be played in a year, I just don’t know if we are at that limit.

The one thing I do have an opinion on is that the league needs to do something to improve the competitive incentive for the final week of the season, so that it is not like a fourth pre-season game for a lot of teams. A year and a half ago, I wrote about a proposal to eliminate automatic home games for division winners now that we have four divisions of only four teams each in both conferences. A similar proposal was raised by the competition committee but failed to pass.

Despite my complaints about the uptick in competitive games in week 17 because wildcard teams have no chance at a home game, and division winners get locked in earlier with fewer teams in a division, the current scheduling format has several things going for it. First and foremost, it is simple and consistent. Compared to the scheduling formats used in the 1970’s and 1980’s, it is far fairer within divisions and less complex. Teams also get to play non-divisional opponents on a set rotating schedule, and these matchups are guaranteed—unlike the past where things like Miami going 15 years without playing a game in Denver were possible.

The rotating conference schedules are both good and bad, though. Good for simplicity and insuring that conference members will play each other regularly. Bad because it basically creates two separate groupings within a conference, where there are very few common games across groups. Yet, when tiebreakers like conference record come into play, completely different conference schedules, without head to head matchups, may be determining playoff spots and seeding.

If the league is going to add games, I have an alternate proposal to keep the current uniform 16-game schedule format, while creating exciting and competitive matchups in the final weeks with the additional two games.

Play flex games in the final two weeks of the regular season, setting the matchups based on how the season has progressed. The recent television deal with NBC on Sunday Night Football has already introduced the concept of a flexible schedule in terms of setting the night matchup closer to the time of the game. This idea simply builds on that. My idea would simply pair up those teams that have something to play for within a conference, and set up matchups that would decide playoff positioning on the field. For teams that had nothing to play for, the matchups could still be set up in such a way that geographic rivals can play at season’s end.

Here’s how my idea would work:

1) After 16 games have been played, the final two matchups are set based on record and playoff eligibility to that point.

2) The home team dates will be known ahead of time, by setting which divisions will have home games for game 17 versus game 18, so tickets for the games can be sold with just the identity of the opponent to be determined. For example, in 2009, the AFC West and North play each other. The AFC West/North would be at home for week 18 and on the road in week 19. The reverse would be true in the NFC, so that there would still be a roughly equal geographic distribution of home games both weekends.

3) All teams that have not clinched a specific playoff seed (even if they have clinched a playoff spot) and all remaining teams that are mathematically alive for a playoff spot are put into the Playoff Pool of teams.

4) All teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention, or have clinched a specific playoff seed are put into the Non-Playoff Pool of teams.

5) If the number of playoff pool teams within a conference is imbalanced across the two halves of a conference (In 2009, West+North versus East+South), then the necessary number of teams will move up from the Non-Playoff Pool to give an even number of matchups for Playoff Pool teams. The Non-Playoff Pool Team with the best record, from the half of the conference with fewer teams, will move to the Playoff Pool, if necessary, to balance out the matchups.

6) For Playoff Pool games, all games will be played between conference opponents. AFC Playoff eligible teams will only play AFC, and NFC teams will only play other NFC teams.

7) For Non-Playoff Pool teams, games can be played against both conference and non-conference opponents.

8) Teams will not play a non-divisional opponent they already played in the regular season in the flex games.

9) The matchups within the Playoff Pool will be set based on a priority order (subject to Rule #8). I would love to let teams select their home opponent, but I doubt this would ever happen in real life. Teams that were tied for a playoff position would meet, with the team holding the current tiebreaker getting home field for the matchup. The priority rules for setting matchups would have to be spelled out in detail, but for now, let’s say generally that first priority would go to teams that had not clinched a playoff spot, but were in playoff position after 16 games, followed by teams that had clinched playoff berth but not positioning, followed by teams out of playoff position but still in contention.

If we applied that to last year, here is one version of the matchups that could have resulted. The Ravens and Patriots ended up tied on record with the Patriots missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker. In this system, those teams meeting is a high priority, and New England at least gets to play their way in on the field in a play-in game in Week 19. In the NFC, several teams were still in playoff competition for that final spot, and the Eagles get to play two of the teams right behind them, while several other matchups also feature teams directly fighting for playoff spots.

Week 18
Baltimore at San Diego
Tennessee at New England
Pittsburgh at Denver
Indianapolis at Miami
San Fransisco at Atlanta
Washington at Minnesota
Dallas at Carolina
NY Giants at Tampa Bay
Arizona at Chicago
Philadelphia at New Orleans
Houston at NY Jets
Cincinnati at Buffalo
Saint Louis at Green Bay
Seattle at Oakland
Jacksonville at Kansas City
Cleveland at Detroit

Week 19
New England at Baltimore
San Diego at Tennessee
Denver at Indianapolis
Miami at Pittsburgh
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia
New Orleans at Arizona
Chicago at New York Giants
Minnesota at Dallas
Carolina at San Fransisco
Atlanta at Washington
Buffalo at Houston
NY Jets at Jacksonville
Green Bay at Cincinnati
Detroit at Seattle
Oakland at Cleveland
Kansas City at Saint Louis

Posted in General, Insane ideas, Rule Change Proposals | 23 Comments »

Overtime Rule Change Proposal: Last Clear Chance

9th January 2009

Following the Colts loss to San Diego, where Manning did not touch the ball in overtime, Peter King wrote that the overtime rule was the "dumbest, stupidest, and most indefensible rule" the NFL has. Now, I don't think it's actually the dumbest rule.

For example, last year I proposed that the league should eliminate the automatic home game for division winner rule and allow wildcard teams with better records to compete for home games. The owners tabled a similar proposal put forth by Roger Goodell and the competition committee last off-season, but I predict that something similar will be in place by the 2011 season if not earlier. The primary reasons I saw from the owners for rejecting it really don't hold water. "It will diminish the value of a division title"--I think that teams that play one of the easiest divisions of all-time and go 3-7 outside of the division do that. "It will hurt teams that play in tough divisions and reward wildcard teams that play in easy ones"--absolutely false based on history, as the strong wildcard teams generally play in tougher divisions and lose out because of being paired with a #1 or #2 seed. If a team wins a division at 9-7 or worse (and thus every other team had 9 or fewer wins), then I submit that the division was in fact, not a tough one. "Tradition: Division winners have always been granted a home game"--again, this is not true, unless tradition goes back to 1990. The NFL has, and I believe will again, changed its playoff structure for the better. Until 1975, for example, division winners with the best record could be forced to go on the road based on a pre-set rotation that assigned home games, without considering a team's record. But I digress.

Like Doug did a couple of years ago,I realized that I've not publicly championed a different overtime system. Like Doug, I also don't have a particular dislike for the overtime system the NFL employs. In fact, it has some nice features-it is simple and fair, oh, and both teams know what the rules are. Prior to the coin flip, both teams have the same chance of getting the ball. Now, Peter King doesn't like it because their is alot of luck tied up in that pre-coin flip fairness. So I've got a solution that solves King's issue (the coin flip) and also, much like Doug's earlier suggestions, should reduce the actual number of overtime games by increasing the incentive to avoid it.

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Posted in General, Rant, Rule Change Proposals | 44 Comments »

Playoff Tiebreakers

30th December 2008

Back when their were only two divisions in the NFL and only the winners of each division met in the championship game, playoff tiebreaker rules were not all that necessary. On the occasions when two teams would tie for a division lead, they would simply push back the date of the league championship game by a week, and have a one-game playoff between the tied teams, and let them settle it on the field. But now, with so many more teams and divisions, vastly different schedules, many more playoff teams, and set schedules for games to occur thanks to television, we can't simply delay the playoffs and have play-in games to break ties.

The first, and only, case of a tiebreaker deciding a playoff spot prior to the AFL-NFL merger was a notable one. In 1967, the Baltimore Colts entered the final week of the regular season at 11-0-2, trying to become the first team to go undefeated since the 1929 Green Bay Packers. However, they had to travel to Los Angeles to face the 10-1-2 Rams, their Coastal Division rival. The Rams won that game, and the tiebreaker, on net points scored in the two head to head matchups, and advanced to the playoffs. The Colts, despite tying for best record in the league, stayed home.

After the merger, the occasional division tiebreaker came into play, but conference tiebreakers were rare because, until 1975, the playoff seeds were determined by a set rotation for home games, and were not based on record. The tiebreakers became far more common once the league went to a seeding system for the conference playoffs, then added a wildcard game in 1978. Using the official tiebreaker explanations contained in The NFL Record and Fact Book, I have recorded every tiebreaker that has been used to determine either a) a division winner, b) finish within a division for potential wildcard spot, c) seeding within a conference among division winners, or d) seeding within a conference among potential wildcard eligible teams. Every potential tiebreaker was recorded with a couple of things in mind. First, all ties within a division are broken before ties are broken across divisions. Second, if a 3-way tie (or more) can be broken affirmatively, that is, by one team winning the tiebreaker outright in a category, then the remaining teams revert to a new tiebreaker, even if the second team was ranked ahead of the third team in that category. Only if the top two teams tie in a tiebreaker and the third does not is it broken negatively, that is, by kicking out the third team and re-running the tiebreaker again with only the top two teams. Third, if, after a 3-way tiebreaker was decided, there were no more available playoff spots, then I did not further break the tie between the remaining teams. Thus, I am only looking at ties that had a material impact on the playoffs, and not those that merely determined division finish for scheduling purposes the following season.

Inspired by this post, where Doug looked at the question of whether head to head was the right tiebreaker for college football by building a model, I wanted to check the various tiebreakers used in the NFL to see which ones actually appear to be better. To do that, I'm going to use both Simple Rating System regular season ratings of the teams (to see how often the "better" team by SRS wins a certain tiebreaker), as well as actual playoff results.

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Posted in General, History, Rule Change Proposals | 24 Comments »

Playoff Proposals: No Automatic Home Game for Division Winners, and “Making the Cut”

31st December 2007

[NOTE from Doug: this post was written prior to yesterday's games. It's my fault, not JKL's, that it didn't get posted at the end of last week. As you'll see, it doesn't affect the content of the post, but you may have to mentally adjust some tenses.]

This year, seven of the eight divisions were decided prior to week 16. The only one that was not, the AFC Central, was determined when Cleveland lost at Cincinnati on Sunday. All four of the teams that would have bye weeks in the playoffs were decided prior to week 16 as well. Only six of the sixteen games in the final week of the 2007 season have any potential impact on which teams make the playoffs, or specific playoff seeding.

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Posted in General, Insane ideas, Rule Change Proposals | 13 Comments »

Rule change proposal: abolish the draft

13th April 2007

Why do we have a draft?

The nominal reason for the draft is to give the worst teams the first shot at the top talent, thereby helping achieve competitive balance in the league. But it obviously doesn't work that way.

If this were the old days, the Raiders could take Calvin Johnson or JaMarcus Russell and pay him nothing, while the Colts would take Ben Grubbs or Brian Leonard and pay him essentially the same nothing. That helps the Raiders.

But this isn't the old days. The Raiders will have to pay whoever they take much more than the Colts will have to pay their pick. Because of the salary cap, that means the Raiders will have less to spend on other players. The recent academic paper by Cade Massey and Richard Thaler (which I've written about here, here, and here) argues that the reality of the situation is that this setup actually hurts the Raiders. I don't think that's quite right, but I agree that it doesn't help the Raiders much if at all.

If the goal of the draft is to help even out the competitive landscape of the league, I don't think it's working. And as long as there is a salary cap, I don't think it's going to work.

That's the nominal reason for the draft. The real reason for the draft, as observed by Jim A in the comments to an old post, is to keep money out of the hands of the rookies and in the hands of the owners and the veterans.

I have no evidence to back this up, but I'm not convinced that's happening. Vince Young signed a deal last year that will be worth between 26 and 58 million dollars. Do you really think he would have gotten much more if he were on the open market? Before you answer yes and cite increased demand, remember that there would be increased supply too: the teams bidding for him would have had the option of bidding on Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler as well.

So the way I see it, the draft isn't doing what it says it's supposed to do. And it's also not doing what it's really supposed to do. It's not working for anyone.

So I say let's get rid of it. Rookies are free agents. They can negotiate with whatever teams they'd like and sign with the one that makes them the most attractive offer. Teams, likewise, can negotiate with and sign as many rookies as they can afford.

This seems like a radical idea, but I claim that the results won't look too much different than they do under the current system. Bad teams often have lots of cap room and would (and should) be willing to roll the dice on a young player or two with superstar potential. The good teams in general won't have as much money to burn and will likely settle for a less expensive rookies who plug specific holes. The teams that would lose out, compared to the draft system, are the ones that are bad but have no cap room. The winners are good teams with lots of cap space. That's OK with me. A bad team with no cap room is one that in my opinion doesn't deserve help.

If the results would be similar to what we see now, why do I favor a switch? Four reasons:

1. It's just a morally better system. This is cliche, but these 22-year-olds should be allowed to negotiate with several potential employers just as 22-year-olds in other careers get to. I don't mean to imply that rookies-to-be are being mistreated under the current system, but if it doesn't do any harm to anyone else (and it wouldn't), I do think it would be nice if they had the chance to explore various options like everyone else does.

2. It would end the ugly holdouts. Players wouldn't have a team to hold out from. No particular city would have a platoon of journalists riling up the fan base about how cheap management is. Players opting not to sign would be forgotten about pretty quickly.

3. It would create more diverse strategies with regard to acquiring young talent. Some teams would go for several big name players. Others would load up on guys that would formerly have been considered second or third round picks. More diverse strategies almost always make for a more interesting game.

4. It'd be fun. Even more fun than draft season already is.

Posted in NFL Draft, Rule Change Proposals | 42 Comments »

Rule change questions

8th December 2006

This was going to be a rule change proposal, but it's so obvious that I feel like I must be missing something.

If a receiver makes a catch near the sideline, but doesn't come down in bounds, but would have come down in bounds (in the judgement of the officials) had he not been shoved out, then it's a catch. Why? Why is pushing a guy out of bounds not considered legitimate defense in that situation when it is considered legitimate defense in every other situation? That's never made sense to me.

In my mind, if a rule introduces the need for a speculative judgement (whether he would have landed in bounds), there had better be a good reason to have that rule in place. What is the reason for this rule? Why is it needed? Are people worried that Brian Urlacher is going to pick up Steve Smith at the hash mark after he catches a slant, carry him to the sideline, and deposit him out of bounds?

I was delivering this rant to a friend of mine, and he started a rant about his own personal sideline-catch-related rule. Why is it that two feet are required to establish possession? I evidently hadn't ever given it much thought, because I was unable to give him an answer. The more I think about it, the more I think he's got a point. The difference between zero feet and one foot is about a million times more significant than the difference between one foot and two. Why draw the line between one and two instead of between zero and one?

Posted in Rule Change Proposals | 18 Comments »

Post your playoff ideas: practical proposals

4th December 2006

If you've got a playoff system that you think actually makes sense, given all the constraints currently in place, let's hear about it.

Posted in BCS, College, Rule Change Proposals | 34 Comments »

Post your playoff ideas: unrealistic proposals

4th December 2006

If you've got a college football playoff system that would be perfect, but sadly could never happen in the world we find ourselves in, let's hear about it right here.

Posted in BCS, College, Rule Change Proposals | 14 Comments »

Rule change proposal: all-intradivision weeks

28th November 2006

Normally I save this sort of thing for Fridays, but since I've been travelling and haven't had much time to blog, I'll trot out this rule change proposal post today. This is actually more of a scheduling change proposal. I would like to see all intra-division games played during weeks 12 through 17. No divisional games for the first eleven weeks of the season, followed by two consecutive round-robins within each division.

To some extent, this is a solution in search of a problem --- there's really nothing wrong with the current scheduling system --- but I think this could add some excitement to the season. In particular, if every team's last six games are within the division, then fans of almost every team could convince themselves that they're still in the race for at least the first 10 weeks of the season. If we can just get hot for those division games...

For the first few weeks of the season, I'm happy just to be watching football. For the next few, I'm watching as teams jockey for position going into the divisional games. Then the division games hit, and we'd be sure to have several crucial games every weekend. The season would be constantly building toward something. It'd be like a miniature set of playoffs before the actual playoffs.

For me, I guess this is also partially motivated by the fact that every year there are a few weekends where some garbage game is the featured simply because it's a rivalry game. I just don't give a rip about the pageantry that is Cowboys-Redskins or Jets-Dolphins or Raiders-Chiefs or, worst of all, Packers-Anybody. Nobody does (do they?), except for fans of those teams. Now, if the Cowboys and the Redskins are playing for a division title, that's good stuff. But Cowboys-Redskins for the sake of Cowboys-Redskins? I'm not into it. Under my plan, the networks can feature the rivalry games that have the most meaning.

Not that this is necessarily an argument in favor of my plan, but it's essentially how the college football season is structured: warm-up games at the beginning, with a few key matchups sprinkled in, then the intraconference games, with the biggest rivalries generally being played at the very end of the season.

I'm not sure I've made a compelling case here. What it boils down to is I think it'd be neat. The floor is open for comments on this or anything else pertaining to the structure of the NFL schedule.

Posted in Rule Change Proposals | 26 Comments »

Rule change proposal: pick your playoff opponent

10th November 2006

As you can see, I'm opening up a new category today: Rule Change Proposals. Maybe I'll make Fridays rule change proposal days. Some of them will relate to the mechanics of what goes on on the field. Some will have to do with league structure and playoff format. Some will be serious, others will be crazy. Others will be both crazy and serious.

This one is completely serious and I can think of absolutely no reason at all why it shouldn't be implemented immediately. I know exactly why it won't be implemented, but there's no reason why it shouldn't be.

The current structure of the NFL playoffs calls for the three seed to play the six seed, and the four to play the five. In the following round, the one seed plays the lowest remaining seed. My proposal is this: the three seed gets to choose whether it wants to play the five seed or the six seed. In the second round, the one seed gets to choose which of the first-round winners it wants to play.

Bill Belichick is clearly above questioning of any kind so I won't pretend that his decision to intentionally lose last year's week 17 game against Miami to gain a favorable playoff matchup wasn't the smart thing to do. But Bill is also a virtuous man, so I'm sure he wishes he wasn't forced to do it. Under my rule, he could have won the game and still gotten to play the Jaguar team he wanted to play.

Yes, tanking for playoff matchups is probably fairly rare. But it's not nonexistent, and this would put an end to it. Further, the fact that tanking is even a possibility in some cases indicates that the seeding system isn't achieving its desired purpose. The point of the seeding system is to reward the higher seed. So why not truly reward them with the easier matchup instead of giving the nominal reward of playing the team that probably is the easier matchup?

I'm pretty sure coaches would hate this rule, as it forces them to give their soon-to-be opponent the ultimate bulletin board material. But, as I see it, that's part of the fun. Speculating on who the Chargers are going to choose to play in the first round --- and then critiquing their decision --- would be a lot more interesting than most of what goes on in week 17 under the current system. And I guess if the three seed doesn't see sufficient advantage in naming their opponent, they should be allowed to pass that right/obligation to the four seed.

Give me one good reason not to implement this rule.

Posted in Rule Change Proposals | 32 Comments »


27th October 2006

I just realized that I've been blogging for over six months and I haven't yet championed some clever overtime system to replace the NFL's current sudden-death system. I don't really have a problem with sudden death, but everyone else has a pet idea, so I want one too. Actually, I have two.

Unlike some of the other proposals out there, these have absolutely zero chance of ever being taken seriously by the authorities. So there's no sense in getting all serious and trying to start the grassroots movement. But I do think they're interesting ideas. They both focus not on restructuring overtime itself, but on preventing the need for it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and all that.

1. Eliminate the (kicked) extra point. Teams are required to "go for two" after every touchdown, but it's just for one point. I haven't done all the math, but I think this would make ties less common, because teams that scored the same number of TDs and field goals would be much less likely to have the same number of points. We'd pick up a few extra ties because lots of TDs would be equal to two field goals. But we can fix that. Make the touchdown itself worth seven and the try worth an additional one point. Since 3 is relatively prime to both 7 and 8, I think we could make ties very unlikely with this system.

2. No overtime. A tie counts as a loss in the standing for both teams.

I told a friend about this system, and he cleaned it up by suggesting that we don't have to "count a tie as a loss." We could call a tie a tie, but change the standings so that they don't list wins, losses, and ties, but instead list wins and nonwins.

I really haven't thought my way through the consequences of this, but I do know that it would create a sense of urgency at the end (of regulation) of a fair number of games that isn't there now. Nothing disgusts me more than a team down three with a minute left sitting on the ball so they can kick the easy field goal and play OT. This would put an end to that practice. And in fact, I think the effect of this rule would ripple back to create more aggressive decisions all the way back to the beginning of the fourth quarter.

And I don't think there is any circumstance where the end of regulation would be less exciting under my system than it is under the current system. Yes, we'd lose the overtime, but overtime is pretty boring anyway. It usually consists of 0, 1, or 2 punts, a 40-yard drive, two kneel-downs in the middle of the field, one timeout to ice the kicker, and then a field goal. I can live without that.

Implement both of these rules and I bet it would almost completely eliminate ties without playing any overtime at all.

Posted in Rant, Rule Change Proposals | 30 Comments »