Do most think the NFL has it right with all of the ongoing rule changes? It seems there are new rules every year; that is most likely because there are modifications to the rules virtually every year as far as I can remember. It is conceded by most the rules overall are better now, than a decade, or even two or even more ago were. This is an ongoing thing, as the NFL is constantly looking for ways to improve the game. Looking from the outside, there are a few changes that I think the league should at least consider.
Virtually every game is riddled with holding penalties, and what one team is penalized for at one point in the game, I notice are not later on, or more disturbing the opposing team is not. This has bothered me so much, at one point, I recorded several games and studied the games to make sure I wasn't just caught up in the moment, but also to make some sort of a record to track the calls. In doing so, I couldn't help but make note of other questionable calls and no calls, especially of the pass interference calls. This was three or four years ago, and the results of what I felt I had discovered were overwhelming. Though, deflating enough, when I tried to show different people the tendencies and patterns of games and officials; it must have been too drawn out and boring, because almost all of them were not much interested at all, unless it specifically pertained to their favorite team, and in turn a few remarked that I must have too much time on my hands.
The basic offensive holding penalty; a momentum killer at times, a ten yard penalty and is called in almost every game at least once when there was actually no hold, but much more often is not called when it is obviously going on quite a bit. Just ask Jared Allen, because he gets held a lot, but officials don't mind making the no call when he is being held most of the time, though he usually will not complain about it. What is frustrating to a lot of Vikings' fans is after watching the terrible no calls, where Allen or others are obviously held and in being held, does have an effect on the play, then when Minnesota has the ball, we see an offensive holding penalty called on the Vikings' offensive line in which there actually was no hold on the play, or it was no where near as bad as what was happening to Allen in the previous series where no flag was thrown. I have seen this exact kind of situation happen many times, what's more interesting is that many times on a questionable call like this there is no replayed shown; this is no accident at all here, the NFL has enough bad publicity, why should they give anyone more ammunition.
I know there is not enough time to replay every call, but little things like this can and have dictated the outcome of games. I do believe in a 'minor' or 'casual' hold, it should only be a five yard penalty. A ten yard holding penalty should be if the hold actually did prevent the player from making the tackle or sack. I have recorded and studied several plays n which a big play was negated for a penalty that it did not matter if it happened or not; there would have been no effect on the play. This should still be called, but be a five yard penalty. This doesn't help much on a kickoff return, but still the same in that type of situation starting from the 15, instead of the 10 is a little better.
Another thing is the chop blocking; it has to go. I know everyone is pretty educated on the ramifications of what kind of jeopardy that puts the defensive player's health in. I think the league is expected to eliminate that from the game during this off season though; so that is one thing they are correcting.
I don't know what what kind of off season training officials go through if any, but maybe there should a new kind of training and requirements and tests that officials have to go through each year, and of course pass before they are allowed to even step onto a field of a preseason game. I'm sure just us fans could think of many things they could do to train there minds to be that much more better, and be trained to react better to such a high speed game. This certainly couldn't make them any worse.
The pass interference this past year in my humble opinion was out of control. I saw Brandon Marshall broke the Bears receiving record. The thing is, he should have shattered it with the fact that he was allowed to push off without any worries of offensive pass interference, I don't know how many dozen times he got away with this, and how many times was he actually called for it; I think it was twice-really? There is often bad calls both sides on this penalty, and it is perhaps the most frustrating. With so much of an impact this call by itself can have on a game, it is hard not to be of the perspective that it should be a review-able play. At least try it for one year where teams can challenge a pass interference call on third downs, and let it be reviewed inside the 2:00 warning. Though, then there is the problem of this causing games to last longer than the three hours the league shoots for. This needs to be corrected in some way though.
It is hard to believe the same officials will side on perspective of a call one time, then within the same game will have the opposite reaction. When doing this experiment years ago, I could not believe what certain officials would call a penalty one time, or for one team, then the other time and usually for the other team would not. This is the kind of thing that conspiracy theorists would love to use as evidence to give their perspective credence. I force myself to believe it is human error. Though, I would eventually like to see officials become full time employees and face consequences, as well as reward for the performance of their job. I don't think as of now they could be fined, but I am not against it, they could be suspended and there could be a stat sheet compiled to track which officials are the better at their respected jobs. Some will say there is just not enough available to go around suspending them, there needs to be more brought in and trained. And this could be after after something like three obvious horrible calls, but more importantly just to put it out there would push officials to do better. Who wants to be the official that is announced as 'so and so has five blown calls this year, going into week three.' I think that would never happen, but undoubtably would push them to do a much better job.
Another thing I would like to see is the official that is reviewing the call should not be one of the officials that was officiating the game; this should be a neutral party in an isolated booth that watches the play and is only asked to determine, for example-'is this a catch, or is it not'. It should not be revealed to him what side the officials on the field ruled, or what the score is, or any unnecessary info; only if there are circumstances in which this cannot be avoided. I think if done like that, there would be a lot higher percentage of correct calls, because even a few times this year they got it wrong after reviewing the play they had blown to begin with.
I do doubt in the future there will be sensors inside the football or sensors and cameras at all of the important vantage points, especially all four sides of the end zone, but this certainly would eliminate a large percentage of the human error factor. It does make the game that much more interesting, with officials bound to make mistakes. The thing is, there will always be mistakes and never be a perfectly officiated game, but these errors should be brought to the closest of minimum as possible. This game can be made better by requiring a better job from the NFL and its officials.