Professional Football Reimagined
From day one, This has been the phrase most used to describe what the XFL in 2020 will be like. You could argue that the XFL was brought back solely with the idea of reimagining the game. It’s the driving force and mission statement for the entire league.
Everything that the XFL has done thus far in a nearly two-year process has been by design. The XFL’s entire approach to selecting team cities, distributing players, team identities, uniforms, and even the league’s official football has been a methodical one. This extends to the league’s game rules which I have learned is coming out next week.
The XFL plans on releasing their league and game rules next week. @xfl2020 has been working on game testing with players, medical professionals, coaches, football personnel and referees for over a year now. #XFL #XFL2020 pic.twitter.com/xIotFrchYN— Mike Mitchell (@MMXFLWriter) December 10, 2019
The XFL has been working on game testing with players, tech experts, medical professionals, coaches, football personnel and referees for over a year now.
The XFL’s football operations department and all of the league’s coaches and football executives have debated and gone over the league rules for several months now before landing on a general consensus. Rules have been tweaked, modified and scrapped during the entire process.
Let’s take a look at what some of the XFL’s rules might be when they are released in the coming week.
The number one complaint against modern-day football. Often times, fans justifiably complain because they have a hard time understanding why in this day and age of technology that calls can’t be corrected.
The issue isn’t officials getting a play wrong in real-time. It’s the inability to correct those calls even with a full replay system. Case in point, this past Sunday’s Pats-Chiefs game. N’Keal Harry scored a TD late in the game but the refs ruled that he had stepped out of bounds. New England was out of challenges so they were at the mercy of the refs sticking to their call.
One single replay revealed that the play should have been called a touchdown but because there is so much red tape in these games. The fans and league have to live with the result.
Not in the XFL. The cat’s been out of the bag on this one since Oliver Luck made his run on radio row during the Superbowl last January. The XFL is going to have a sky judge that will buzz into the head referee on the field and have the authority to correct a missed call.
Here’s the kicker as revealed in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times article by Thomas Bassinger. This sky judge, who will be up in the broadcast booth with all the angles possible for review, will have only 25 seconds to correct an egregious call.
In a show of wide-open transparency. All the XFL referees are going to be mic’d up as well. The audience and broadcasters will be able to listen in on the conversations that the refs have on the field. The XFL will also have an extra official on the field, whose sole job will be to spot the football immediately after a play ends.
There are some other rules that in theory should make the officiating crew’s jobs easier. A proposed one foot in bounds rule that would mirror the college football rule.
Catch rules overall in pro football have way too many gray areas that are left open for interpretation to begin with. What constitutes a catch and what doesn’t. The XFL could be looking to simplify this area and eliminate the complexities attached to it.
Another proposed rule that figures to aid officials is the double forward pass rule behind the line of scrimmage. A similar play was used this past Sunday Night between the Rams and Seahawks with Cooper Kupp. Except he was behind the passer Jared Goff.
In the XFL, a quarterback in the shotgun can throw a bubble screen that is in front of the passer but still be behind the line of scrimmage. The play could be a headache in the making for defensive coaches and add an extra layer of strategy.
LESS STALL MORE BALL
A 25-second play clock, a running clock, and clock stoppages after every play during the final two minutes of each half. These are all elements that have been researched, developed and tested for a long time by the league. The shorter play clock seems like it is going to happen.
The XFL wants to speed up the game and this is an easy way to do it. The running clock and clock stoppage testing is probably the most debated and difficult aspect for the league to decide upon. It will be interesting to see where the league landed with these concepts.
One of the XFL’s aims is to increase action and eliminate meaningless plays and it’s all over the proposed league rules that have been tested.
No Extra-Point Kicks
A rule that the original XFL had. There will be an option to go for 1, 2 or 3 point conversions after every touchdown scored. Something similar to what the original XFL had during their playoffs back in 2001. The XFL’s tiered points would be 1 point from 2 yards, 2 points from 5 yards and 3 points from 10 yards out.
More Kickoff Returns
Coverage teams line up 5 yards apart. The idea is safety driven and is designed to bring back a dying play in modern football. The kickoff return.
The XFL’s proposed kickoff alignment will be jarring to some. This is where the league leaned on its medical professionals but the caveat is that the league wants to ensure returns with limited touchbacks.
Touchbacks are reportedly going to be brought out to the 35-yard line. The returner is going to have more space to operate because the kickoff team will not be allowed to take off down the field until the returner has caught the ball first. This is going to lead to more scoring. With teams starting out in better field position.
How the league handles the onside kick is unknown. There have been reports of a traditional onside kick being used but nothing has been concrete on that front. The league’s clock stoppages at the end of a game and the tiered extra point conversions may eliminate the need to even attempt an onside kick at all.
Fewer Punts And More Punt Returns
The league has been leaning towards placing the ball on the 35-yard line, for all punts that go out of bounds, through the end zone and coffin corner kicks. This will encourage teams to go for it on 4th down more when approaching enemy territory. Special teams purists may not look so kindly on not being able to pin a team back inside the 5-yard line. Safety is also in play here for the punt return itself with a CFL inspired halo rule that allows the returner space to catch the football and head upfield.
A pro football shootout like format designed to quickly resolve a tie after regulation. Both teams get 5 attempts to score from the opposing team’s five-yard line. The caveat is that each team’s offense will be on the field at the same time on opposite ends. How this is formatted and scored should be interesting.
There will be strong debate amongst XFL supporters over the rules that are eventually revealed. It won’t be until the games are played that the reimagining of these concepts can be fairly judged. For better or for worse. The XFL will be judged by their league rules and defined by the type of game they present on the field.
Anything that is reimagined is met with resistance, skepticism and in some cases ridicule. Quite frankly, the XFL wouldn’t be in existence right now if there was any fear of those elements whatsoever.
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