NFL competition committee adds two rule change proposals, including one to address a Bill Belichick strategy


Bill Belichick shed light on an NFL loophole that allowed him to milk more time off the clock near the end of the Patriots’ prime time win over the Jets last season. In a twist of irony, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel — who played for Belichick during the 2000s — used Belichick’s loophole against him during Tennessee’s wild card win over the Patriots this past January. 

That loophole may be closed indefinitely by the NFL owners during their upcoming spring meeting, as the competition committee has proposed two rules changes — along with seven rules changes proposed by NFL teams — that will need to be approved by at least 75% of the league’s owners in order to pass. 

Among the rules changes proposed by the competition committee is one to amend Rule 4, Section 3, Article 2, which would prevent teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running, something that Belichick and Vrabel did during the 2019 season. If this is passed by the NFL’s owners, it would likely receive the unofficial title as the “Bill Belichick Rule,” which would join the “Mel Blount Rule” and the “Jesse James Rule” as some of the other rules changes that have become synonymous with a particular person. 

The other rule change proposed by the competition committee is to amend Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9, which would “expand defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but who has not had time to avoid or ward off the impending contact of an opponent.” This would be yet another change to NFL kickoffs after the league took away running starts and wedge blocking by the kickoff team in recent years. The NFL also moved their kickoff from the 30 to the 35-yard line in 2011. 

The Eagles, Ravens and Dolphins are the NFL teams that have also proposed rules changes that will be voted on by the owners. Among these proposed rules changes include the Eagles’ proposal to offer an alternative to the onside kick that would give the team that is trailing in the game an opportunity to maintain possession of the ball after scoring. The team that is trailing would have one opportunity to gain 15 yards from their own 25-yard line in order to receive a new set of downs. 

Philadelphia has also proposed a rule change to overtime, asking the NFL owners to add five minutes to the currently-existing 10-minute overtime session to help minimize the impact of the overtime coin toss. 





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