The Patriots are spearheading efforts to bring radical changes to the NFL next season.
The league’s 32 owners will meet in Orlando next week to discuss and vote upon several proposed rule changes. Four of them were proposed by the Patriots, and at least one, if approved, could have a dramatic effect on how the game is played.
The Patriots will propose:
■ Moving the line of scrimmage on extra points from the 2-yard line to the 25.
■ Extending goalposts upward an additional 5 feet.
■ Permitting a coach to challenge any official’s decision except scoring plays (which are already automatically reviewed).
■ Placing additional cameras on all boundary lines to supplement TV cameras and aid the officials with instant replay.
The Patriots’ crusade against the extra point isn’t surprising given Bill Belichick’s comments from January, when he railed about the success rate of the play. Falcons president Rich McKay, also the chairman of the league’s Competition Committee, said Wednesday on a conference call that 1,262 of 1,267 extra points were successful in 2013.
“It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game,” Belichick said Jan. 1. “It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players.
“It was a lot harder for them to do — the Gino Cappellettis of the world and so forth — and they were very good. It’s not like it is now, where it’s well over 99 percent. I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.”
The owners aren’t likely to adopt the rule change — a 42-yard extra point is likely to be considered too radical a change — but it will certainly spark discussion about future change.
McKay said that in a postseason survey, several teams suggested changing extra-point rules, including awarding 7 points automatically for a touchdown, kicking the extra point from the 20-yard line, or even forcing a team to kick the PAT at the yard line from which it scored the touchdown.
In all of those scenarios, a team would still have the opportunity to try a 2-point conversion from the 2-yard line.
The NFL may experiment with placing the extra point at the 20-yard line during one week of preseason games in August.
“These things traditionally take time,” said McKay. “It’s good that the discussion is being had.”
Two of the Patriots’ proposals are topics that have come up in the team’s recent past. The Patriots lost a 2012 game to the Ravens when a kick by Justin Tucker that went over the goalpost was ruled good, but making the goalposts 5 feet taller could make it easier for officials to make definitive rulings.
And Belichick said in December he would be in favor of allowing coaches to challenge any call they want to; as of now, certain dead-ball plays and penalties are not considered reviewable.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the concept of, ‘You can challenge any two plays you want,’ ” Belichick said Dec. 3. “I understand that judgment calls are judgment calls. But to say that an important play can’t be reviewed, I don’t think that’s really in the spirit of, ‘Let’s try to get everything right and make sure that the most important plays are officiated properly.’ ”
Several other changes will be proposed and potentially voted upon next week, including:
■ Moving the kickoff line to 40 for safety and historic and consistency reasons.
■ Expanding instant replay to include personal foul penalties.
■ Eliminating overtime periods in preseason games for player safety.
■ Allowing referees to consult with members of the NFL officiating department in the league office during replay reviews.
■ Raising the number of active players on game days from 46 to 49 for games played on a day other than Sunday and Monday, excluding the opening weekend.
■ Raising the practice squad limit from 8 to 10 players.
■ Permitting clubs to trade players prior to the start of the league year.
■ Eliminating the preseason roster cutdown to 75, and just have one cutdown to 53.
■ Allowing any player to return to the active roster after spending six weeks on injured reserve, as opposed to just one player per team.
The NFL will also make Rule 12.3.1b a “very significant point of emphasis next year,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, in reference to 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct related to verbal abuse.
While the N-word will not specifically be banned, “officials will be empowered to call a foul if there are racial slurs, sexual orientation, or verbal abuse,” said Fisher, a member of the Competition Committee.Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin