The NFL is mulling a few significant rule changes with votes coming next week, and some of those changes will inevitably impact the Falcons.
Per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league is going to be considering officiating changes, onside kick rule changes, and more. Let’s take a quick look at what’s ahead for the league.
No sky judge, but...
The #Ravens have withdrawn their proposal to add an eighth official off the field (AKA the “sky judge”), but the competition committee’s proposal for expanded booth-to-official communication with video has strong support among coaches and is likely to pass next week, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 16, 2021
The NFL desperately needs to improve its officiating capabilities, so while the sky judge being ruled out is a bummer, the thought of making things more robust between the booth and officials on the field is welcome. What level of improvement we can and should expect from this remains to be seen, but NFL officiating is bad, has been bad, and even reviews are sometimes useless. I will always take a step in the right direction.
Onside kick changes
One proposal that's unlikely to pass: The 4th-and-15 alternative to the onside kick.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 16, 2021
The hope is a competition committee proposal to limit the receiving team to nine players in the "setup zone" could fix onside kick success rates.
All votes on proposals set for next Wednesday.
Younghoe Koo couldn’t have been in favor of the idea of a 4th and 15 alternative, and presumably the Falcons defense wasn’t in favor for different reasons. Thankfully, that proposal appears to be dead.
What might be moving forward is deeply intriguing. Currently per ProFootballTalk, 10 players are lined up in the setup zone 87% of the time and all 11 are lined up there 13% of the time, so a proposal to limit that number to no more than 9 would presumably make kicks harder to recover. That would make for more exciting onside kicks, and it might make Koo an even more valuable kicker than he already is. I’m intrigued.
Changing jersey numbers
Another proposal that has strong support among NFL teams, per sources: Easing restrictions on who can wear which jersey numbers.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 16, 2021
There are some hurdles for veteran players to change their numbers. But get ready to see some receivers and running backs wearing single-digits soon.
This one’s worth watching simply because we could see some Falcons swapping numbers for the year ahead, and it sounds like it’s going to pass. Remember, Julio Jones wore #8 in college, so he and other receivers will probably be at least tempted to make the switch.