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Proposed NFL OT rule that lets coin toss winner choose field position, not possession

Posted by John T. Reed on

I have an article about NFL rules changes. It is about getting rid of noncompetitive plays. One rule I advocated was adopted although I have no reason to know they got it from me. It made sense to me and them. That is the rule that a PAT kick is now from the 25, not the two. If you want to go for two, you go from the two. 

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article about NFL overtime. The team that wins the toss has a 28-20-4 record. That shows the coin toss is determining the winner of the OT too often.

The proposed new rule is that the winner of the toss gets to pick where to place the football and the loser of the toss gets to pick whether they want to go on offense or defense from that spot.

The Journal makes a fuss over some Nobel Prize economist liking it. Get outta here. It’s not that complicated. It’s the cake cutting rule.

This is an Andrew Beaton article in the Journal. I criticized him for a prior article. I sent him the criticism. No response. Maybe if I start making such criticisms searchable public blog articles.

The call out in this article says . “All of football’s most important decisions are based around field position.”

I do not agree with that. Indeed, it was the mindset in the early 20th century where they used to punt on third, second, or even first down depending upon how bad the field position was. . That was nuts.

1. MORE decisions should be made different based on field position. For example, when a team is down by, say, two TDs in the fourth quarter, they need to call plays that will average long gains because they only have time for a certain number of plays and they have to gain about 15 yards for each point they need to score.

In the event, most coaches run the same type of plays regardless of how many TDs they are down by. Basically, they are not trying to win They are just trying not to look too bad.

The plays they need to run are riskier and might result in their losing worse. They are playing not to lose worse rather than to win. That is coaching malpractice. It is dishonest because they would not admit it.

But the fact that MORE decisions should be made based on field position and point margin and time remaining does not mean “All of football’s most important decisions are based around field position.”

2. In end-of-half decisions, one team usually ignores field position because they decide not to try to score. Also at the end of the game, the closer you are to to the end of the game in time, The Journal says the proposed rule is like the “you cut the cake and I get to pick which piece is mine.” Just so.

It is also like a common clause in partnerships which says either partner can, at any time announce a price which is the value of the business. The other partner then has a certain number of days to decide whether they are SELLING their share based on that total price or BUYING out the other partner who named the price at that price.

I also see another problem. Some teams are better at moving the ball long distances than others. If the long-distance team won the toss, they would place the ball farther from the opponent’s goal line which likely cause the short-game offense to choose defense.

In other words, field position is more important to some teams than others. Which is quite different from that callout “All of football’s most important decisions are based around field position.” In yet other words, the proposed rule favors teams better at scoring from less advantageous field positions.

I would also note that 28-20-4 is a relatively small sample. It may be that it will even out with more experience. The NCAA rule already makes sure that each team gets a possession in OT. The NFL rule only does that if the first possessor scores a field goal. Then it goes to sudden death. The sudden death rule is the problem, if there is a problem.

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