Welcome, everyone. Let’s jump right in. The NFL’s stated reason for reducing overtime from 15 minutes to 10 is for player safety. Do you buy this? If not, what’s really going on here?
Player Safety has become the watchword for the NFL (and the NFLPA). Anything with that imprimatur is going to get approval. My point, as I wrote this week, is that if Player Safety is the primary concern, they why not scrap overtime altogether. It would improve player safety and make for strategic and interesting end-of-game decisions, where coaches could truly separate themselves.
I'll never argue with a rule change made in the name of player safety, but I don't think shortening OT by five minutes will end up having a major impact in this regard. Teams may end up running the same number of plays because they'll go uptempo earlier.
I like Andrew's point--why extend the game at all, in that case. Also, player safety is a good argument for adopting the college OT procedures, since those eliminate special teams plays like kickoffs and punts that can be the most dangerous since players are charging downfield at full speed.
I can’t imagine the league is trying to pull the wool over our eyes on this. We could look at this and say, ‘How is this really helping player safety when you guys are still willing to have men play on Thursdays after a Sunday game?’ And that would be a fair question.
But I don’t see some sinister ulterior motive here that they're attempting to cover up with the "player safety" catch-all.
Of course, there's player safety and there's business. The NFL is not going to do anything with Thursday Night Football; it is a cash cow with money from NBC, CBS, Twitter and now Amazon. TNF is not going anywhere.
Jumping off that, I like the idea that has been floated of two bye weeks, which would extend the season to 18 weeks without adding regular season games, and could present the opportunity to schedule Thursday night games after a bye week.
I think there was probably a general feeling that the new rules allowing for rebuttal scores made overtime games go on for too long. If I were the NFL I would do everything I could to avoid the paradox of a boring overtime.
And I don't think you could find one head coach in the NFL who wouldn't love an extra bye week, but that means pushing the entire calendar one more week back, and pro days drag on for too long as it is. I'd support an extra bye week if you kept the draft where it is.
It has always seemed to me that you could schedule almost every Thursday game between two teams coming off a bye, giving them 10 days between each game. Maybe that makes too much sense.
There’s an argument being made in some corners of the internet that shaving five minutes off OT is most beneficial to a crowded TV lineup on Sunday afternoons.
Do you believe there's even a remote chance that this was done with TV in mind—remember, everyone complains how long the games are—and it was labeled "player safety" to help push it through? According to ESPN Stats & Info, there were 32,732 total plays during the 2016 regular season . . . and only 60 of them occurred in the last five minutes of OT. The impact doesn't seem to be large here...
Making the games shorter has been a stated goal of the NFL this offseason. That was no secret. Ratings dipped last year, for which one reason was almost certainly the Presidential election season, but there were conversations about reformatting advertising, making replays shorter, etc.
There have been 83 overtime games since 2012 and just 22 have gone more than 10 minutes. That’s about four per season and about one per every four weeks. It’s true that games have dragged on, and it’s true the league should do whatever it can to tighten that up (like it has with the replay center). But I don’t think a long overtime game once every four weeks creates that large of an impact in this regard.
We’ve all been to games where everyone on the field, in the stands and in the press box is waiting for the commercials to end so that they can play. I think there’s plenty of fat to be trimmed.
I don't think you have to go for 15 minutes for an overtime to be described as boring.
Theoretically, the five fewer minutes would make teams more aggressive with their second possession in overtime, knowing that time is running out.
Goodell says the changes will shave about 5 minutes, from an average time of 3:07 to 3:02. That's nice, and ratings seem fine except for the election cycle, but ultimately consumers will demand a shorter length of product.
I predict the game will be closer to 2:30 than 3:00 in ten years. It will have to be.
Have any of you had a chance to talk to players about this yet? Any idea how they view it? Are they happy? Indifferent? How do they view the impact?
I was at Giants OTAs today, and the response was very much indifferent. Players are *really* excited about the relaxed celebrations rule. But an OT period reduced from 15 to 10 minutes? Meh.
It's up to the coaches to determine strategy, anyway. Even Giants head coach Ben McAdoo didn't have much to say. "It's five minutes shorter," he said when asked about the change.
It seemed like once the news broke Tuesday, more players were more concerned about the relaxed celebration rules than the overtime change. I spoke with Ron Rivera about it today, and he’s been in two long overtime games in recent years (a tie against Cincinnati in 2014 and a 13-minute OT game against the Colts in 2015).
To Robert’s point, both of those games would have been radically different from a strategy standpoint had it been 10 minutes instead of 15. I don’t want to say he seemed indifferent to the rule change but rather he seemed intrigued by the different strategic possibilities this rule creates, a la backing up the extra point.
Had to laugh Jenny. That comment is so Ben. Knew him well from our days together at the Packers, true flatliner. Stays above the noise.
Perhaps the most interesting potential strategic change is the possibility that the first team to get the ball could simply try to drain as much of the 10 minutes off the clock as possible. Even if they only get a FG out of the drive, they might be draining so much time off the clock that the second team to get the ball might not have a chance to even get in FG range. Of course, an entire OT period of four-minute offense would hardly be more exciting than what we currently have.
Classic McAdoo, Andrew. You don't even have to replace the "said" with "deadpanned"; with him, that is always implied.
This is kind of what I love about the OT change. If you have an offense that can smash an opponent in the mouth, you could play for an 8:30 drive that ends up with a 27-yard field goal. Good luck getting 50 yards in 90 seconds to attempt a long field goal.
I just think it would be so difficult to take 10 minutes off the clock. If you're in an overtime game, it's been a fairly closely-contested contest, so it's not like you've been dictating the pace of play with any ease. I think the priority would be to put points up on the board above playing any clock games.
Andrew, you've been around the NFL a for a long time ... as a player agent, as a team executive, and as a media analyst. The overtime change and the rollback on celebration penalties seems to be "gives" from Roger Goodell and the owners to the players. Is that what we're seeing here?
What does everyone else think? Is the ice thawing a bit?
Well we are seeing reports of many meetings between Roger and players, set up by his point man Troy Vincent. Roger has certainly listened, but keep in mind celebrations will still be punished if they take too long, the message was really "Have fun, but be quick!"
Goodell is always going to be the face of the league with the players, the target instead of the owners truly making the decisions. These decisions may help a bit, but they are window dressing when it comes to bigger issues in play going into 2020 CBA negotiations.
Albert Breer had a good column on our site today addressing this very subject. Over the last year, there has been a concerted effort from the league office to try to repair Goodell's image.
This is certainly an effort to bridge that gap between the commissioner and the players; just look at some of the language used in the memo explaining the rule change. With CBA negotiations around the corner in 2020, it's also a smart strategy in that regard.
Ditto on all of that. My favorite quote from the past two days came from Josh Norman, who should have been elated with the celebration rule change. He said something like "well they'll just take something else away from us."
Very astute, Josh.
As I always say, "everything's negotiable."
It's crazy to think that we are closer to a new CBA then we are to the 2011 resolution, if that makes sense. I feel like we're just beginning to understand the consequences of shortened practice time and everything else that came with that deal.
If I were a player, my main priority would be to kill talk of an 18 game season right now, then start looking at ways to ameliorate the effects of Thursday night football on the body.
Like, say, relaxed marijuana rules?
What is the league’s major issue or "ask" going to be in 2020 negotiations? Is it international games? Or what else?
The key to any multi-issue negotiation is to prioritize the issues. We know the league's top priorities: profitability and competitive balance. The lower that player costs are, the more profitable they are.
On the other side, the players, we've heard a lot of different ideas about priorities, but it will be interesting to see what those end up being.
Coaches are pushing for more practice time, but ultimately they don't have a seat at the table, and it's hard to imagine the players or the NFL walking back on a measure that was agreed upon in 2011 to promote player safety.
The sticking point is always revenue sharing. If the union were to make a stand on certain issues that are important to them, whether it be the marijuana policy or commissioner power, the pushback from the league would be for them to accept a smaller piece of the revenue pie.
Andrew knows details better than I, but quite simply the goal is to keep making money hand over fist. Clearly they believe international games will help grow the sport and, in turn, bring in more money.
My understanding from the last negotiations was that the owners dropped any 18-game season talk fairly quickly because they knew the players were resolved against it. The players still feel the same way.
Of course, negotiations are all about leverage, so if the owners see an opportunity, would they push harder this time?
It's interesting to see the PA claw for every little bit of leverage they can as the clock ticks down. Getting their media wing up and running and hosting a party for Myles Garrett at the draft, which I wrote about, was a big step.
I think they feel like there are ways they can wrestle media dominance, in terms of access to players, from the NFL. The more you get players taking media opportunities independent of NFL PR folks, the more you get them thinking independently about their worth.
And player unity and resolve are critical for negotiations. It's an area where the owners have always had leverage.
Of course international is key. Revenue sources will eventually tap out here (although watch out for gambling as a new source of revenue) but they have to grow the game in new markets. The NBA is far ahead in this area, perhaps due to the nature of the game itself.
Will obviously be following all of this closely over coming months/years, probably more than any (sane) person should...
To go back to overtime for a quick minute . . . and forgetting the length of the period . . . are you OK with the format?
Remember: The Falcons lost Super Bowl 51 without ever possessing the ball in overtime. They stumbled in the second half, but their fate was in essence sealed by a coin flip. Is this good for football?
Would there have been backlash if the Patriots had come all the way back in the second half, only to lose in overtime without ever touching the ball?
What system of OT would you like to see?
I think college football has it right. I understand the pros and cons of it, but it pleases me more than any other overtime in any sport.
That said, I don't have much sympathy for the Falcons. Your special teams and defense are just as much a part of your team as your offense. Force a fumble on the kick return. Get a pick-six and end the game. Yes, I understand the defense was gassed, but the Falcons could have won that game without the offense touching the field just as well as they lost it without the offense touching the field.
I'm still in favor of the college OT system. There's the player safety angle that I mentioned above: fewer plays, and no kickoffs or punts, which are among the most dangerous plays. Also, while the team that wins the coin toss has an advantage in college, it's not as big of a disparity as in the NFL OT rules.
In that case, coin don't lie. Falcons didn't deserve a chance in OT after that fourth quarter performance.
But I will always argue that college overtime is the best in all of sports. Thrilling AND equitable.
I'm the no-overtime guy.
How many times do we wonder/wish a coach would go for the win in regulation?? This would happen a lot (and we'd have more time for other things).
Here’s a fun question that has no basis in reality, but we’re asking it anyway: What would be the most fun way to settle ties in a non-football way. Dance-off? Or what?
I once played in a rugby tournament where they were under a time constraint and OT was replaced with three kicks at the uprights from the same distance.
If still tied, Rock Paper Scissors. I believe one of the women's games was determined by RPS that day.
A lot of teams do this at the end of practice, and it's even better when a kicking competition is underway: Have the kickers make field goals from farther and farther distances back, moving back 5 yards at a time, until someone misses.
Of course, if they both miss at the same distance, I have no idea how to resolve that. Also, that means the Ravens would win pretty much every OT game.
Give me that American Gladiator challenge where the top player from each team tries to knock the other off his platform with a large padded stick.
Well, that's even better than my idea. Get a team to make a bylaws proposal, Robert!
Maybe the two head coaches could wrestle at midfield.
Coaches have to show a skill beyond football -- instrument, magic, dance, cooking, whatever. An America's Got Talent thing with us as judges.
And with that, we're going wrap this up for today!
The whole thing ends in a tie . . . how does that feel, eh?
I didn't know ties were even allowed. Duly noted for next time.
I'll Rock Paper Scissors Robert to see who goes on to the finals to face either Jenny or Andrew.
Jenny's got a major height advantage but I'm a scrappy point guard.
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