Mark Murphy is new member of NFL Competition Committee
The Committee meets once a year to discuss and implement rule changes in the NFL.
This is the first time the Packers have a representative on the committee since 1999 with then coach Mike Holmgren.
The NFL has a complex rulebook that needs to be updated and amended as the game progresses from season to season.
Here are three key rule changes Murphy and the gang can address and institute for the upcoming NFL season.
The overtime rules allow for a coin flip to decide which team gets the opportunity to possess the ball, either take it on offense or defend it on defense with a kickoff.
Each team must possess or have the opportunity to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on its initial possession. Play continues in sudden death until a winner is determined, and the game automatically ends upon any score (by safety, field goal or touchdown).
The recent rule change of allowing both teams possession of the ball if the team who first possess the ball kicks a field goal but doesn't score a touchdown is a step in the right direction. The idea was to put more emphasis on the skill of playing the game to determine the outcome as opposed to awarding too heavily the luck of winning the coin flip and only having to drive the ball close enough to kick a field goal without having to defend after.
Rule Change: Institute a college-style overtime where both teams get a possession on the opponent's 30 yard line. The team with the higher score after each has a possession wins.
Now, the coin flip is completely taken off the field so matters can be decided on it.
This infraction falls under the "punishment doesn't fit the crime" category.
As the current rule stands, a team whose player fumbles the ball into the opponents end zone, not only loses possession of the ball, but the opponent receives the ball on the 20 yard line with a fresh set of downs.
It's silly as the team with the ball within close scoring distance of a touchdown has to give up possession of the ball when the opponent has not gained possession. If this fumble is made anywhere else on the field without the opponent gaining possession of the ball before it goes out of bounds, the team would keep possession of the ball.
Rule Change: If a team's player loses possession of the ball into the opponent's end zone without the opposing team gaining possession, the team retains possession on the opponent's 20 yard line. The downs will continue from the fumble play. For example, if it's 2nd down and a player fumbles into the end zone, the ball is moved back to the 20 yard line for 3rd down.
This rule change prevents a team from purposefully fumbling into the end zone because the ball will get moved back to the 20 yard line. It also doesn't reward the opponent with "dumb luck" of getting the ball back on their 20 yard line having not stopped the team with the ball nor recovered the ball.
This rule refers to catches made in the end zone. The "going to the ground" rule says that a receiver must retain possession of the ball through the "process of the catch." What makes this a controversial rule is to define the process of a catch in the end zone and how that differs from other touchdowns.
When a player breaks the plain of the goal line while running the ball with just a smidgen of the football, it is a touchdown. Even if the ball gets knocked out of his control moments later.
But in this "process" rule, a receiver could catch the ball in the end zone, land with both feet and his butt in-bounds with the ball under his control, but have the ball jarred out as he lands on the ground and it is not ruled a touchdown. This exact scenario happened to Detroit standout receiver Calvin Johnson in a game ending call last season, which is why the rule is commonly referred to as the "Calvin Johnson rule."
The committee needs to clarify what it means to score a touchdown. How long does the ball have to break the plane of the goal line and how long does it have to remain in the possession of the ball carrier?
Rule Change: Abolish the "process" definition and award a touchdown to a player who catches the ball and lands with both feet inbounds in the end zone.
The NFL committee has done a great job of clarifying rules in the past and I expect they'll remedy a few more this spring when they meet again. Starting with these three suggestions is a great place would continue the trend.
Good luck to Mark and the rest of the gang in maintaining the NFL's commitment to improvement and excellence.