PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
It’s clear which way Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti will be voting on the proposed overtime rule change at today’s owners meeting.
On the matter of extending last year’s postseason overtime rules to the regular season, it’s a strong “no” from Bisciotti.
In order to extend the overtime rules to the regular season, 24 owners will have to approve.
“I didn’t like changing the rules in the first place,” Bisciotti told BaltimoreRavens.com Monday at the owners meetings. “I was one of the couple owners that voted against the rule last year.”
Bisciotti is opposed to the new system, in which each team is given an opportunity to possess the ball unless the first team scores a touchdown, for two reasons.
First, he says it creates a competitive advantage for the team that loses the coin toss. If the team that wins the toss, and likely takes the ball, kicks a field goal instead of a touchdown, the team that gets the ball second knows it has to score a touchdown to win.
It’s essentially playing with an extra down because it’s not going to punt. If that team scores a touchdown, it wins.
“If you allow these guys to get 10 yards every three plays, you increase the opportunities by 33 percent,” Bisciotti said. “I think that you’re darn well near eliminating punting naturally. I think that teams would go down the field and score almost every series, whether it be a field goal or a touchdown.”
Thus, coaches have more difficult decisions to make.
The coach that wins the coin flip must decide whether to take the ball and how aggressive he’s going to be to reach the end zone. If he kicks a field goal, the other team has the advantage of having four downs.
After the league realizes that the chances of winning would be more favorable to the team that doesn’t take possession first, then coaches could be criticized for taking the ball if it didn’t pay off.
“When that happens then you’re putting the coaches in the position to defer, and then if they defer and the other team scores a touchdown, then it’s a coach-killer,” Bisciotti said.
Harbaugh agreed with Bisciotti’s logic, saying there would be a “staggering advantage” for the team who got the ball second. He said he would even consider electing to kick the ball away to start overtime if he won the toss.
But Harbaugh is hoping it doesn’t come to that.
“I’m a sudden-death guy. I like sudden death,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been around forever and it’s worked out pretty good. But we said that last year, so that’s where we’re at.”
The problem is that the competition committee and chairman Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons don’t seem to agree.
McKay said the statistics under the sudden-death rules show that the team who wins the coin flip was too often the winner of the game.
“We just felt like the statistics had gotten themselves a little out-of-whack; the coin flip was having too much of an impact on the winners in our mind,” he said. “So this was a way to say this is a fairer procedure.”
The other hot topic in terms of rules changes centers around the protection of quarterbacks.
There is only a minor rule-change proposal on that front, which extends horse-collar tackles to protecting signal callers in the pocket.
McKay said he feels the rules currently adequately protect quarterbacks just enough – not too much and not too little. Bisciotti agrees.
“I’m all for [player-safety rules],” Bisciotti said. “Even though a lot of the players [complain] about it, I think they just adjust accordingly. I think it’s good. They say this is a quarterback-driven league. Well, we have to keep them upright.
“When you look back and you look at highlights of the abuse that guys in the past got, like Archie Manning, it’s amazing that they’re still walking. They were getting pounded.”
There have been player and fan complaints that all the rules regarding illegal hits, and the resulting fines and suspensions, is turning the NFL soft.
“I don’t think it takes one bit away from the game,” Bisciotti said. “I think that’s silly. I think the safer you make the game in all aspects, the better it’s long-term viability of the NFL.”