Owners are gathering in Dallas this week for a brief league meeting, and the Competition Committee intends to discuss changing the rule that negates the ability to replay a call when a coach illegally throws a replay-challenge flag. This matter became a hot-button issue on Thanksgiving week, when the Lions' Jim Schwartz and Falcons' Mike Smith fell victim to the rule within a five-day span. The Lions' loss to the Texans was due at least in part to a scoring play in which Houston running back Justin Forsett was not ruled down despite clear replay evidence that he should have been marked down near his own 25-yard line. All scoring plays and turnovers are to be reviewed by rule, but Schwartz's throwing of the challenge flag led the officials to enforce a rarely-used rule that prevents the play from being reviewed when the challenge flag is thrown.
There is sentiment within the committee to change this before 2013, with some members discussing trying to implement the change for the 2012 postseason. But that is no longer the expectation, sources said.
The matter instead will be discussed at this meeting, but sources said no vote on the actual rule change would take place until the March ownership meeting. There remains every expectation that the 15-yard penalty associated with the transgression will remain but that, in 2013, the play will still be reviewable if a coach makes a similar mistake.
According to a league source, discussion on the elimination of the onside kick will also occur this week.
The NFL is evaluating potentially drastic changes to try to prevent concussions and other head- and neck-related trauma, with commissioner Roger Goodell recently talking to Time about the possibility of all kickoffs being replaced at some point. While that is seen as a move that would likely be a ways off, other changes are being evaluated in the short term.
In addition to the onside kick issue, the committee will study the possibility of eliminating all chop blocks and also whether to penalize hits in which the runner (not the tackler) leads with the crown of his helmet.
The Competition Committee makes its major presentations to the owners at the full-scale NFL meetings in March. This week's brief meeting is largely focused on economic issues (briefing teams on the 2013 salary cap, for instance), with the owners gathered for just one day.
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