The Ravens didn’t submit any rule change proposals, but there’s one submission from the competition committee that would close a loophole Baltimore has used and another that could be of great benefit. Plus, the schedule for the week.
The 2017 NFL league meetings have begun in Phoenix, Ariz., and they will shape the upcoming NFL season.
Owners, general managers, team presidents, head coaches and other high-ranking team officials gather to debate the league’s big-picture items and hammer out any rule changes. It’s the who’s who of the NFL all in one place.
There are several notable items that could affect the Ravens. Here’s what you should know:
Rule Change Proposals
There are 15 proposed rule changes this year. While none have been submitted by the Ravens, who had two last year, there are definitely some notable ones. Here are five:
No. 2: By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field-goal and extra-point plays.
Had this rule been in effect last year, kicker Justin Tucker likely would have had a perfect season. Tucker’s only field-goal “miss” came when New England Patriots linebacker Shea McClellin leaped over Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox to block Tucker’s attempt. The Eagles are proposing a rule change to not allow that maneuver because it compromises the safety of the long snapper.
No. 4: By Philadelphia; Amends the challenge system by granting a third challenge if a club is successful on at least one of its initial two challenges, and expands reviewable plays outside of two minutes of each half.
No. 5. By Washington; Eliminates the limit of three total challenges per team per game and eliminates the requirement that a team be successful on each of its first two challenges in order to be awarded a third.
Nos. 4 and 5 are both similar in their intent to expand the scope of challenges, which is something the Ravens proposed last year, but the league did not pass. Baltimore proposed giving coaches three challenges and Head Coach John Harbaugh has been in favor of making any player safety penalty (such as hits with the crown of the helmet), or non-call, reviewable. The Eagles and Redskins aren’t offering a change to what is reviewable, but wants coaches to be given more opportunities to challenge.
No. 6: By Washington; Moves the line of scrimmage to the 20-yard line for any touchback where the free kick travels through the uprights.
Head Coach John Harbaugh floated the idea last season that a team should be given a point if their kicker boots the kickoff through the uprights. This rule proposal doesn’t go that far, but it would reward big-legged kickers like Tucker. Currently, teams start at the 25-yard line on a touchback. Pinning a team back 5 more yards doesn’t seem like a lot, but it would be a big field-position benefit over the long-haul.
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By Competition Committee; Makes it unsportsmanlike conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
This would close a loophole that Harbaugh and the Ravens have wisely used twice to milk the clock and protect a lead at the end of games. Baltimore instructed every player to hold while punter Sam Koch danced around in the end zone and eventually took an intentional safety. The Ravens used it in Super Bowl XLVII and last season in a 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Under the new proposed rule, the team committing the intentional penalties would be moved back 15 yards and the clock would be reset to where it was at the snap of the ball.
Better fan experience
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans about ways the league is looking to speed up games, including changing the timing and frequency of commercials. After much buzz last year about dropping ratings, the league will surely spend a lot of time talking about how to make the product more engaging for fans, both in stadiums and watching at home.
Las Vegas Raiders
A vote on relocation will happen Monday or Tuesday, and it’s looking like the Raiders will be on the move from Oakland to Las Vegas. Owner Mark Davis needs 24 of 32 voters to say “yes.” The move wouldn’t happen until 2020, so the Ravens will still face the Raiders in the Bay Area during the 2017 season.
The league is always looking for ways to grow revenue, and international markets offer that possibility. The NFL went back to Mexico for a game last season, and it will discuss the next step abroad at the meetings. China and Europe (outside of London) are reportedly in the mix.
Harbaugh has long been an advocate of hiring referees to be full-time employees. Some officials who have high-paying jobs outside of the NFL have resisted the move, but it’s a step that would likely ensure better quality and more consistency.
Questions For Harbaugh
Harbaugh will meet with reporters for about an hour-long breakfast on Tuesday starting at 7:15 a.m. MT (10:15 a.m. ET). Here are some of the questions he will likely get:
What’s the plan on the offensive line?
The Ravens lost starting right tackle Rick Wagner to the Detroit Lions in free agency and released starting center Jeremy Zuttah. Harbaugh will be asked whether the Ravens are looking to fill those holes with in-house players, draftees or free agents.
What’s the plan at wide receiver?
Similar to the offensive line, the Ravens still need another wide receiver (or two) to replace retired Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken, who left for Indianapolis. Does Harbaugh think the Ravens could draft a wide receiver in the first round? Are there still veteran free agents the team has its eye on?
Who could step up at inside linebacker?
The sudden retirement of Zachary Orr has left a hole next to C.J. Mosley. The Ravens have some young linebackers already in the building in last year’s second-round pick Kamalei Correa and undrafted Patrick Onwuasor. Does Harbaugh see them as the solution?
Offensive game plan
The Ravens have beefed up their defensive secondary and retained nose tackle Brandon Williams. By all accounts, the defense should be really good again next year. But what about the offense? The unit has lost more players (Wagner, Smith, Aiken, Zuttah, fullback Kyle Juszczyk) than signed (running back Danny Woodhead). Harbaugh added to the coaching staff with Greg Roman. What’s the way forward on offense?
Tuesday, 10:15 a.m. ET: AFC Head Coaches Breakfast
Tuesday, 2:30 p.m. ET: Competition Committee Press Conference
Wednesday, 10:15 a.m. ET: NFC Head Coaches Breakfast
Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET: Goodell Press Conference