Five ways to change the NFL, plus my 12 postseason teams for 2010
When Peter asked me if I wanted to write his MMQB column, I immediately tossed around topic ideas with teammates, friends, tweeps and others. One topic stood out above the rest: How would I change the NFL? Examining things both on and off the field, here are five ways I would change the game:
What comes to mind when you think about the Super Bowl? Most sports fans would mention the house parties they attend to celebrate the big event. Others may think of their favorite sports bars where they can go and watch the game. It's safe to say the Super Bowl is synonymous with eating, drinking and getting together with friends.
When I think of these activities, I think of Saturday night. Saturday is the one night a week my wife and I get a babysitter for our daughter
Why should the NFL change the day of the Super Bowl when it just set so many viewership records in February? The simple answer is because it could be even bigger. No matter what day it is played on, diehard football fans are going to watch the game. But what about the casual NFL viewer? These are the ones who only watch if it is convenient for their schedule. To grow the audience of the Super Bowl, the NFL has to target those people.
Sunday night is a time when parents are getting their kids' lunches ready and making sure their homework is done, when young professionals are preparing their work for the beginning of the week. Conversely, Saturday is the night mom lets the kids stay up later while she watches
I propose changing the schedule to where each team plays every team in their conference plus one rival from the NFC. This admittedly drastic idea would have three big repercussions:
One, divisions would be eliminated and the top six teams from each conference would get in the playoffs. The top three finishers every year likely would be the same in this format as the current one, but I think it would make a big difference in which teams would get spots four through six. Let's face it, from year to year certain divisions are a lot stronger than others. In some years, the fourth best division champ is weaker than both wild card teams. Eliminating the divisions would guarantee the best teams make the playoffs.
Two, it mostly does away with strength of schedule. Since every team from every conference is playing each other minus one game, strength of schedule would basically be the same. This schedule would let every fan know their team had an equal shot to make the playoffs.
Three, it would add a brand new aspect to the league year -- cross-conference rivalry week. I love this idea. It's like interleague baseball, but for just one game a season. There are some great rivalries (Texans-Cowboys, Steelers-Eagles, Jets-Giants, Raiders-Niners, etc.) that would be awesome to see annually. While I realize every team might not have a natural rival, I think the fans would still be excited for it.
Currently, NFL teams have 53 players on the roster and only 45 are active on Sundays. Roster limitations create issues for coaches and front offices as the season heads down the stretch. It also forces players to conceal injuries and play hurt, knowing their roster spot might depend on it. By expanding the roster by, say, six (59 total, 51 active), it gives coaches, executives and players more options on a weekly basis, like having backups who have been on the roster all season, and not simply plucked off the street. This also would allow teams to keep "bubble" players out of camp and let the team develop them. This brings me to the next part...
... Create a minor league. It doesn't need to be like baseball where every team has a farm system, but simply a league that allows some of those raw players to keep developing their game. Without NFL Europe, would we have ever heard of
How rookies get paid is the subject of much debate in the NFL. Here's my solution:
First rounders: Four-year contracts. Can't be franchised in fifth season.
All picks: 90% or more playing time = $1 million bonus
Simply, if a rookie comes in and is good enough to play, he should be compensated on the back end. The reason the bonus starts going down by $100K after 70 percent has to do with the current player performance. Player performance gives you a bonus based on how much you play relative to how much you make. Example:
The real sticking point to the rookie wage scale has little to do with the scale and more to do with the money being saved. The NFL Players Association has projected a savings to the league of around $200 million based on certain rookie scales (not the one I put forth, but similar.) I think that money should go back into the locker room towards veterans and to former players, especially those who played pre-1993. The owners have made it clear the savings should go back in their own pockets. I think very little progress will be made on this until the owners realize that we aren't going to give back money that is already being paid to players, rookies or not.
Our current regular season system of sudden death overtime is not the way to decide a football game. I have two main problems with the current system.
One, it doesn't make a team do enough to win. After a long, hard fought game the fact that one team can get a good kickoff return, a 20-yard pass interference penalty, run it three times and kick a field goal for a win is insane. That team didn't get a first down without penalty help and didn't have one good offensive play, but still won the game. Is that how classic games should be decided?
The second problem I have with the current OT is the arbitrary way the team gets the ball. Again, after a great game, the team that gets the first chance to win is the one who wins a coin flip. How is that the way to help decide a game? If you want to keep the current system, the ball should be given to the team with the most penetrations inside the 20, most total yards, least amount of penalties, or any way determined by what takes place on the field. But certainly not a coin flip.
My perfect overtime scenario is simple and not far off from our new playoff format, with a few exceptions. My OT would start with the team who had the most possessions inside the 20 and letting them have the decision if they want the ball or not. If that was even, it would go to the team with the fewest turnovers. After play started, both teams would be guaranteed a shot at the ball. After both teams have their possession, and if it's still tied, then it goes to sudden death.
1. I think the Texans will be playing past Week 17 this season. We return 10 starters on each side of the ball. Last season, our defense over the final 13 weeks gave up just 87.6 rushing yards per game, good for fourth best in the league. Second-year defensive coordinator
2. I think the Dolphins are my sleeper playoff team in 2010. In another division, they might not be that much of a sleeper, but the AFC East is tough. They made solid additions at spots where they needed help.
3. I think, despite my feigned confidence above, there is absolutely no telling who is going to make the playoffs this season. I think the league hasn't seen this much parity in a long time. I really think if you can pick 6 out of 12 playoff teams tomorrow you are really, really impressive. I might as well throw myself in the mix.
• I know I didn't put the Jets up there, and I don't mean any disrespect by it. They are loaded, but putting the pieces together can be tough in a short time period of time. I felt like there would be an odd man out in the AFC East and I just flipped a coin. Sorry, Jets.
• The Steelers are going to be a real interesting team to watch this year. If
• Philadelphia was hard to leave off but first-time starter
• Don't be surprised if Washington is there at the end either. Don't forget how good that defense was last year.
• Call me crazy, but I think the Bears will be good. It seems like a lot of people are waiting for the
• Don't write off
Obviously you can tell why I said picking 6 out of 12 right now is really hard. There are so many teams to make cases for. I could pick another 12 and might do better than my first 12.
4. I think I don't quite understand playing the Super Bowl in New Jersey. Why risk playing the most important game of the year in the elements when so many warm weather options are available?
5. I think I'd like to see Texans rookie
6. I think I'm really jealous of those who got to go to the World Cup. South Africa is a place I have always wanted to go and the World Cup is an event that I've always wanted to attend.
7. I think my teammate,
8. I think if soccer wants to get big in America, it needs to do what every other American sport has done: Cater to the offense. Football has done it with various penalty changes like pass interference and allowing a certain amount of holding at the line of scrimmage. Basketball has done it by not allowing hand checking. Baseball has done by shrinking the strike zone down to the size of a Happy Meal. My suggestion for soccer? Make it 10 on 10. By taking one guy off, it will allow for the skill guys to have more space to do the amazing things that on occasion you see them do.
9. I think athletes have never had a better opportunity to market themselves than through social media. Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, or your own personal site --
10. I think I'd like to end with a few thank-you notes. First of all, thank you to Peter for letting me be a part of MMQB. Thank you to my editor
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