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Pundits Love Ravens' Reported 'Spot and Choose' Overtime Rule Change Proposal

HC John Harbaugh
HC John Harbaugh

The Ravens are looking to shake up overtime in the NFL with a rule change proposal at the virtual owners' meetings later this month, according to Pro Football Talk and others.

The rule proposal, which is being referred to as "spot and choose," would have one team select where to spot the ball at the start of the first overtime possession and the other team pick whether to play offense or defense.

For example, the Ravens could spot the ball at the 10-yard line. Then their opponent would have to pick whether it wants to start on offense from its own 10-yard line or play defense.

There's still a coin toss, but it only determines which teams gets to pick between spotting the ball (and direction of play) or choosing the side.

Reportedly, one Ravens proposal says the winner is the team who scores in a 10-minute period (tie if nobody scores). There's a second proposal which would remove the sudden-death element and the winner would be the team with the most points after 7 ½ minutes of overtime (half of a quarter).

Former Ravens Running Backs Coach Matt Weiss, who left this offseason to become Michigan's quarterbacks coach, tweeted his support for the idea.

A lot more strategy comes into play in this scenario – which would require coaches to size up not only how good they feel about their offense/defense, but also how well the other's team's units are playing at that time. Weather conditions also could play a larger role.

The reported proposals are getting rave reviews from media outlets ahead of the virtual owners' meetings where they would be voted on, currently scheduled for March 30-31.

"The 'spot and choose' approach replaces chance with strategy," Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wrote. "It's a fascinating wrinkle that would truly revolutionize overtime and — more importantly — make it fair to both teams. … Count us as being in favor of the approach."

"Other than the fact that it's different, there is no good reason for the NFL to not adopt this rule,” Sports Illustrated’s Steve Ruiz wrote. "It makes a random coin flip less important, it injects more strategy into the game and it creates more drama. It's everything you want in a rule change."

"The Ravens' proposal has a chance to change football forever," wrote Deadspin’s Jesse Spector.

"Not only would the proposal add an extra element of excitement to overtime, but it would also negate the advantage that any team would get from winning the OT coin toss," wrote CBS Sports’ John Breech. "Less than 4% of games went into overtime last season (10 out of 256) so if the league is going to make a dramatic change, overtime seems like the spot to do it."

"This sounds complicated at first, but it's actually a really fun idea," tweeted ESPN’s Mina Kimes. "Say you're playing KC: Where would you spot the ball so that they're 'forced' to play defense? The 5? Then if they choose to play offense anyways and score and win, we'd blame randomness less than we would with the current setup, right?"

The league has been tweaking the overtime rules over the past decade. It used to be a pure sudden-death period in which the first team to score won. In 2010, the league experimented with a playoff change to ensure both teams got at least one possession unless the first team to get the ball scored a touchdown. That rule was expanded to the regular season in 2012. In 2017, the league shortened overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for preseason and regular-season games.

For the proposal to go into effect, 24 of the 32 league owners would have to approve.

Under Head Coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens have been among the league's leaders in innovation. Last year, the Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers proposed to add a booth umpire, or "sky judge" as an eighth official. In 2016, the Ravens made a proposal regarding the identification of eligible receivers. The year before, a Ravens proposal about where eligible receivers must line up was passed.

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