The NFL made four noteworthy rules changes on Tuesday at the owners meetings in Chicago.
— Overtime has been trimmed from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. According to NFL Research, 83 games have gone into overtime the past five years. Of those, 22 lasted at least 10 minutes. The average overtime during that span lasted 7 minutes, 43 seconds. Last season, six of the 13 overtimes lasted 10 minutes, including three ties.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, didn't think the change would result in more ties, noting that "the strategy" employed by coaches "will solve that problem."
Rather, he said, the rule is about player safety — though it's hard to say the potential loss of 10 snaps over those 5 minutes would make a huge difference.
“We think this is an important change particularly for teams that may be into an overtime situation and a lengthy overtime situation that may have to come back and play on a Thursday night so this is another positive change,” Goodell said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy was part of the initial discussion.
“I’ve had a chance to listen to all the arguments and discussion about it,” he said before the vote. “The 10 minutes, I understand why the proposal for 10 minutes makes a lot of sense. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other.”
— Rosters will be cut from 90 players directly to 53, instead of cutting to 75 after the third preseason game and then 53 after the fourth and final preseason game. Not only will that give an additional 22 players one last chance to make a final impression, but it will make coaches’ lives easier. In last year’s preseason finale, for instance, the Packers kept 26 players out of action while the Chiefs kept 32 players on the sideline. That left Green Bay 49 players and Kansas City 43 players for the game.
— The injured-reserve rule has been changed again. Now, two players are allowed to return off IR. Players must spend at least six weeks on IR and can return to action after eight weeks. Last year, teams were allowed to bring one player back from injured reserve, which the Packers used on cornerback Makinton Dorleant. Before that, teams were allowed to designate one player for return. Prior to that, injured reserve meant an end to all players' seasons.
— The limitations on post-touchdown celebrations have been relaxed, assuming they are in good taste. Goodell said he spoke with more than 80 current or former players about it. Packers tight end Martellus Bennett must have been one of them.
“They listened to me. I feel like I did that for the people. I’m the people’s champ,” Bennett said.
Said Goodell in a letter to fans: “We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown. And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.