As the Green Bay and Arizona game went down to the wire and as Aaron Rodgers tossed up a Hail Mary prayer to Jeff Janis, all I could think of was “Is this going to happen again?” Sure enough it did. Janis caught it and the collective audience watching thought “Did that really happen again? Twice in the same season? Are the Packers that lucky or Rodgers that good?” All viable questions, but I will not be answering them. What i will attempt to answer is what followed after that play, OT.
Overtime can be the best and most fun of the game or the most controversial. In this game it was both, to begin with the referees had to re-do the coin flip after the coin did not flip the first time. Now how often does that happen in real life much less professional coin flippers who literally had a training on doing that. No matter the flip or not the Cardinals got the ball both times and here is where things got interesting, after the ball was kicked for a touchback the Cardinals proceeded to take the field. The NFL’s current rule is that if the team that takes possession first in overtime scores a touchdown the game is over. If they only manage a field goal, the other team is entitled to a possession.
What happened next was improbable, as it was thought that Green Bay had all the momentum going into OT with that Hail Mary. But in fact what happened is Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, was left wide open and scampered all the way down to the 5 (throwing a sweet no look stiff arm I might add). The next play Carson Palmer, Cardinals QB, flipped the ball to Fitzgerald on a little shovel screen and scored. That was that Cardinals win because of the NFL rule. What if the NFL had a different rule in overtime? Would the Packers have different results in their last two post-seasons, as they lost both in OT? No one truly will ever know, but what some people think is that maybe teams should find out, by changing the OT rules in some way. I will offer a few ways to change the rules, some more reasonable than others.
The first proposal of change is going to the college OT rules. Obviously a little adaptation is needed, but in college the team that wins the flip gets to pick offense or defense first. No matter which they pick the ball starts at the 25 yard line, they can either attempt a field goal, go for a touchdown or turn it over on downs. Obviously the 25 is fairly easy for NFL so maybe move it to the 35 or 40 and give the teams 2 or 3 sets of downs. The second part of this is that both teams get a chance to score, or answer if you go second in OT, obviously that needs to be part of this proposal. Lastly, after 3OT’s when teams score touchdowns they have to go for a 2-PT conversion. In my opinion thats a good rule and i think that for NFL change that up one to the second OT.
So in summary start at the same place, both get the ball and 2-PT attempts after 2OT’s.
The second proposal comes from a meshing of a idea heard from the Bill Simmons podcast, as well as something currently in use in a different sport. To start with the NHL uses a 3-on-3 style for OT and I would imagine that it creates a lot of fun and exciting hockey late in the game even after all the time that the players have played. Now the idea I heard from the BS podcast was 7-on-7 or basically less players on the field for OT. Going to a small high school in Colorado I was lucky enough to learn about 6 and 8 man football, and that is where this idea comes from. If I was the owners I would propose that the NFL moves to this proposal because of more offense and the fact that we see something brand new to most fans. This proposal would be like the current NFL rules where a team picks either kick, receive, or which way to defend. The kicker though is that after the coin flip the team receiving gets the ball on their own 25 instead of a kick-off. Another thing is that both teams will get a possession no matter what. How the first OT would work is that only 8 on 8 gameplay is allowed, the teams would have to follow the rules of 8-man football and get very creative. The creativity does not stop there, in the second OT the ball is moved forward 10 yards to the 35 and dropped down to a 6 on 6. This would force coaches to get creative on both offense and defense as well as know the rule books more. This is my favorite proposal because it would create instant excitement and intregue because it would showcase more 1v1 match-ups.
In summary 8v8 in first OT and 6v6 after as well as both teams getting a chance always.
The last proposal is a variation of the current rules. I heard this on the Colin Cowherd show and want to expand on it. What Cowherd said is that the road team should get the ball first because everything in this game is based around being the home team. He went on to say that the road team has to prepare more especially if playing in a not familiar environment. His other case was that the home teams can audible because their fans are quite when they are on offense and loud when the opposing team is. This all makes sense, give the road team a little bit of a advantage for once. Although some times the road teams win the toss, it still is only a 50-50 chance for both teams. This would give the road team a chance to win in hostile territory, but if the crowd is enough of a factor and the home team good enough it shouldn’t matter who gets the ball first.
In summary same rules and road team gets the ball first.
With any of these rule change the Packers could have advanced at least one more round each of the last 2 post seasons. It would also stop a bunch of controversy as to who could have won or should have won, as well as, stop players from complaining. The last thing that these options would prevent is the narrative that Aaron Rodgers is following in Peyton Manning’s footsteps and becoming a great regular season QB but not playoff QB, which I will talk about on my podcast Sunday.