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NFL Owners Meetings: Replay under review


JACKSONVILLE – A lot of NFL teams have a lot of ideas about a lot of changes when it comes to instant replay.

How much change actually will take place?

That will be one of the significant storylines next week when coaches, general managers and owners from all 32 teams convene Sunday through Wednesday at the 2015 NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona.

The NFL on Wednesday held its annual pre-Owners Meetings conference call, a call that featured members of the NFL's Competition Committee discussing potential rules and bylaws changes that will be discussed next week.

The committee will present the owners with 23 potential rules changes, with St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher – a former co-chairman and current member of the competition committee – saying that 18 of the proposals were submitted by teams and five were from the committee.

Of the 18 club-submitted proposals, 13 relate to instant replay, including:

1.A proposal by the New England Patriots allowing teams to "challenge anything," according to Fisher. That means coaches would get two challenges per game to challenge penalties, penalties not called ---anything on the field. Officials currently review all change-of-possession and scoring plays, with coaches allowed to challenge "non-judgment" calls.

2.A proposal by the Tennessee Titans to allow coaches to challenge all personal fouls.

3.A proposal by the Washington Redskins to make all personal fouls that result in a first down reviewable.

4.A proposal by the Indianapolis Colts to review penalties on any defenseless player.

5.A proposal by Washington to increase coaches' challenges from two to three.

6.A proposal by Tennessee to add calls that involve the game clock to instant replay at the end of halves and games.

7.A proposal by New England to put cameras on all boundaries of the playing field and make that element consistent at all venues.

The Detroit Lions are also proposing that replay be allowed to reverse an on-field officiating error. Under that proposal, replay could reverse pass interference penalties, which – like all "judgment-call" penalties such as holding, clipping, etc. – are not currently reviewable.

The Patriots also proposed lengthening one-point point-after attempts to have the ball snapped from the 15-yard line instead of the two-yard line under the current rules.

One of the non-replay proposals came from the Colts, who proposed that a change be made to the two-point conversion rule. Under the proposal, a team converting a two-point conversion would be able to kick a 50-yard point-after for an additional point.

Also, Chicago is proposing that the overtime rule be changed to ensure each team a possession. Under the current rule, each team is entitled to at least one possession unless the team that receives the overtime-opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession.

Also on Wednesday, Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay – the competition committee chairman – said there was a 63 percent decrease in fines for hits to defenseless players this past season, something he said was a substantial drop and that could be attributed to a greater understanding of the rules.

"We now have players who have come through high school and college and played their games under their targeting rule," McKay said. "Those players are now coming into our league and playing under a similar defenseless player rule.

"I think it's starting to show itself that players are adjusting to the way they play the game."

The competition committee is not expected to make a proposal on the league's definition of what constitutes a legal catch. The so-called "catch-or-no-catch" possession rule was a source of controversy when a near-catch by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was overturned near the end of a postseason loss in Green Bay in January.

McKay said the committee will examine the language in the current rule and could attempt to clarify it, but he said he didn't plan to offer specifics to the public/media until the committee officially speaks before ownership Monday at the meetings.

The competition committee is not backing any of the above proposals. Rule changes must be approved by 24 of 32 owners, and rules not backed by the competition committee often do not pass.

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