As the off-season chugs along with free agency and draft evaluation going on, another very interesting aspect is any potential changes in the rules and the officiating. And next week, the NFL owners will be considering how, if it all, to alter the use of instant replay to officiate potential penalties that were missed by the on field crew.
Obviously, this comes on the heels of the very controversial moment at the end of the NFC Championship Game. That’s when, the on-field officials clearly missed pass interference on the Rams that would have allowed the New Orleans Saints have a first down, and very likely kick a field goal to win the game in the final seconds to go to the Super Bowl. There has been tremendous outcry, from the Saints and their fans specifically, but a lot of fan bases and observers in the NFL, too, that replay should expand to include calls being missed.
However, whether 24 of the 32 owners will actually eventually agree on how to implement this: is a whole other story.
One suggestion that has already been embraced by the new spring Alliance of American Football league is to use an extra referee in the press box, who is only looking at video replays. And, that official becomes the “sky judge,” who can immediately Buzz down and call a penalty that wasn’t called on the field.
On Friday, Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons and former Buccaneers GM who chairs the very important NFL Competition Committee, basically dismissed any talk that their committee would recommend to the owners let there be an extra sky judge put in for NFL games.
This sky judge idea seems like a no-brainer, especially with technology in 2019 and the fact that, the NFL is already utilizing a “Central Replay Command Center” in New York to officiate calls and overrule the referees on the field, if they miss them. It seems simpler and it seems easier to have someone on site do this with replay, too, but apparently, the NFL is not embracing it yet.
There is also another proposal that will be discussed by the competition committee, but it’s unclear as to whether it will go to a vote of the owners, either. That proposal being suggested by the Redskins is: a coach would now be able to say the on field officials that they are challenging a specific penalty on a specific player that they want reviewed. Currently, penalty review is not allowed under replay rules.
Apparently, the New England Patriots advanced a similar idea previously but it gained no traction either.
Obviously, there is a strong consideration that has to be made for how much longer games are going to be, especially with replay reviews, going on to constantly challenge penalties.
We at F.F.I., and everyone else, should want to see critical calls that are obviously wrong be corrected and, hopefully, quickly.
However, we also understand, and everybody else should too, that you could be opening a real “Pandora’s Box,” when you start talking about the ability of coaches to challenge judgement calls on penalties or non-called penalties. It will will cause more delays, and more times than not, you will have the refs “cop out” with the “call on the field stands.”
In the end, we will eagerly await to see what the competition committee wants to recommend and what the owners vote on next week at their annual meetings being held in Phoenix
QB Murray out again for XFL Vipers home opener
For the second consecutive week, the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL will have to go with backup quarterbacks in place of the injured, Aaron Murray.
As the Vipers get set to take on Houston in their inaugural home game Saturday afternoon, the XFL made official that Murray will miss his second game due to his lingering foot injury suffered in week one.
Murray has been unable to practice the last two weeks and that means,Tampa Bay will likely turn to Taylor Cornelius for the second straight week to start in his place. Cornelius was shaky a week ago in Seattle completing only 16 – 27 for 154 yards and two INTs, as the Vipers fell to 0- 2 with an 17-9 defeat to the Dragons.
Tampa Bay has yet to score an offensive touchdown in either of its first two games, and the Vipers may look to play former USF quarterback Quinton Flowers more (above) in this one Saturday. While not a traditional pocket passer, but more of a dual-threat, exceptional runner, Flowers has played sparingly in the Vipers first two games.
A week ago in Seattle, Flowers was just 3 – 7 for 43 yards in the air with a “pick six” as a Seattle defender leaped in the air and intercepted his pass at the Vipers one yard line and fell in the endzone.
Flowers also ran 5 times for 15 yards in the loss. He is obviously a fan favorite in the Tampa area having starred at USF in 2016-17.
If there is such a thing as a “hot seat” after only two games in the rebirth of the XFL, Tampa Bay coach Marc Trestman is clearly on it, as offense is supposed to be his forte’. Yet, the Vipers have not been able to sustain much of anything in their two losses to New York and Seattle scoring a total of 12 points.
Saturday’s home opener at Raymond James Stadium will be the first Spring football professional game in the Tampa Bay Area since the final season of the USFL and Steve Spurrier’s Tampa Bay Bandits played at the old Tampa Stadium in 1985.
Report- new 17th game for NFL teams will all be International
More details are coming out on the new proposed collective bargaining agreement for the NFL and its players. And, a report Friday says that the 17 game in the regular season schedule will be a neutral field, international games for every team.
NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Friday morning that for fairness and schedule balance, the extra game will favor neither team:
Some added details on CBA being voted on by players today:
—Playoff expansion is pretty much tied to CBA approval. So likely no expansion this year if players don’t approve the deal.
—17th game wouldn’t be an international game for every team. Would be a cap on total intl games.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 21, 2020
As it stands right now, the NFL is committed to play at least four games in London each year for its “International Series.” They have done this in each of the last two years. The league is also committed to playing in Mexico City, where are the Chiefs and the Chargers played a Monday Night Football game a year ago.
The NFL has also previously played Buffalo Bills home games in Toronto during the regular season in the last decade.
While Garafolo didn’t get specific details, it appears that the NFL will now play 16 games involving the 32 teams on the international neutral fields.
Of course, as it relates to our state, the Jaguars already have an annual series where they play home games in London. Further, owner Shahid Khan just announced earlier this month that they will be adding a second home game off their Jacksonville schedule in London starting this fall.
That was meant by considerable outrage by the Jaguars fan base, as it takes a second game off of their season ticket.
The Buccaneers just play division rival Carolina at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium a year ago (above), and the Dolphins last played in London against the Saints in the 2017 season.
It had been rumored that the NFL was looking to play as many as eight games in London annually, as soon as possible. It will be easy to see that the NFL varies up the combination and rotation of games between the U.K., Mexico and potentially again, in Canada to help accommodate the 16 total new games being added to the schedule.
When the CBA is ratified, it will be the first time the NFL increases its regular season since the league went from 14 to 16 regular season games in 1978. While this is not expected to go into effect for the 2020 schedule, it is believed that the 17 game schedule with each franchise playing an international game could come into play as soon as 2021.
As part of the new collective bargaining agreement, the league will now have an extra postseason team make the playoffs from each conference. And, that means there will be three NFC and three AFC Wildcard playoff games on the first weekend each January. That could happen as soon as this season, depending on ratification of the new deal.
Under this scenario, only the top-seeded team in each conference would receive a bye the first week and there would be three Wild Card teams pitted against the three division winners. It’s also unclear if the NFL will change the format of allowing division winners, regardless of record, to be able to host play off games. There has been considerable complaining from fans, media and teams about division winners sometimes having 2-3 or sometimes more fewer wins than the Widcard team that they are hosting.
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