Eagles Wake Up Call: NFL League Meeting Primer

What rules will be up for debate over the next few days?

Jeffrey Lurie. (USA Today Sports)

Jeffrey Lurie. (USA Today Sports)

For the first time in a few years at the NFL’s annual meeting, our focus will likely shift back more toward the true purpose of the event: the changing rules that govern the game of football.

Last year, the talk centered around Chip Kelly’s power grab, and two years ago, the DeSean Jackson trade rumors couldn’t stay out of the headlines. Over the next few days, Kelly will address the Philadelphia media for the first time since being fired, but things should be a bit quieter for the Eagles.

We’ll talk to Doug Pederson for an hour on Wednesday morning, and we’ll also have access to Kelly during that 7:15-8:15 time slot. Jeffrey Lurie reportedly said he’d likely address the media at some point, although there isn’t a timetable for that. There’s a lot we’d like to cover with the Eagles owner, who hasn’t spoken publicly since hiring Pederson, including the personnel executive search. Roger Goodell, meanwhile, will hold a press conference around noon on Wednesday.

The AFC coaches’ breakfast roundtable is Tuesday morning, but Andy Reid will reportedly be absent, so we won’t get to talk to him about Pederson or the Jeremy Maclin tampering. We can, however, stop by the Tennessee and Miami tables to discuss the trades involving DeMarco Murray, Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell.

Giants owner John Mara reportedly told reporters that there’s a “good chance” the fourth preseason game will be eliminated in the next few years, but the big discussion so far has been about a change that will not happen, at least not this year. The competition committee declined to address the catch rule, which Falcons President and competition committee chairman Rich McKay discussed in a conference call on Thursday.

“There’s been this talk about could we create a more objective standard, really, because of replay. And I think that they feel as on-field officials that would definitely hinder them as they use this objective standard of time, and in Troy [Vincent]’s case, they like the fact that it’s now tied into the same element as the safety element,” McKay said.

“We’ve got to remember that there’s over 18,000 passing plays a year. That’s how many passing plays we get a year. That’s 5,000 more than we had in 1990. And we end up every year, we do end up with — let’s say it’s a group of four plays, maybe it’s as many as six out of all of those in which we look at it frame by frame and say, ‘Maybe he got that wrong.’ But in reality, that official, that on-field official is officiating an awful lot of passes every game and getting them right.”

McKay added that the NFL probably hasn’t been clear enough in “making sure everybody understands how the rule is applied.”

In total, there are 19 rules proposals: nine from the competition committee, three from Washington, two from Baltimore and Kansas City, and one from Buffalo, Carolina and Minnesota. Here are some of the more notable ones:

  • Permanently move the line of scrimmage for extra-point kicks to the 15-yard line, and allow defenses to return any misses.
  • Make all chop blocks illegal.
  • Eject any player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
  • Change the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line.
  • Provide each team with three challenges and expand reviewable plays.
  • Expand the definition of intentional grounding.
  • Eliminate overtime in preseason games.


Catch up with the rest of the division in yesterday’s NFC East Roundup.

Details from the Chip KellyMarcus Mariota trade proposal, and why the Eagles get an A+ free agency grade in Weekend Reading.

“I’ve never been a part of a city like this where they care about the team so much, they care about the players.” Nolan Carroll on returning to Philly.

Tim examines how Connor Barwin fits in at defensive end.


Chris Givens’ arrival shouldn’t stop the development of Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff, writes the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.

Agholor and Huff have disappointed, but it’s far too early to draw conclusions, especially with the former. Agholor may have finished last in the NFL in yards per route run, but a midseason ankle injury did him no favors and neither did a passing offense that was increasingly designed around Matthews and tight end Zach Ertz.

There was ample reason why Matthews and Ertz, who signed a five-year extension in January, became, and will likely remain, the focal points. But the Eagles won’t have continued success over the middle and in the run game without an outside presence that stretches defenses vertically and horizontally.

The Eagles have the most riding on Agholor’s development. The 2015 first-round selection was thrust into the starting spot vacated by Jeremy Maclin. He played 72.6 percent of snaps in 13 games, but finished the season with only 23 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown.

NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks warns against the Eagles taking a first-round quarterback.

The presence of a rookie, especially one taken in the top 10, would mean the team clearly had plans to move on from Bradford. This wouldn’t be the Green Bay Packers taking Aaron Rodgers at the end of Brett Favre’s career. Bradford could, in theory, could play another eight years. Favre was already on his way out.

The argument can be made that maybe Bradford is on his way out as well, as the team really only committed one season to him.

Whatever Bradford’s future is, however, one thing is certain — drafting his replacement before he takes one snap into his new contract will only complicate an already confusing quarterback situation for the Eagles.


Tim and I head to Boca Raton in search of the most elusive answer of all: What’s a catch?

Asher Dark contributed to this post.