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DMN: OT rules make tougher decisions

Pacman Jones: What are the Lions thinking? Michael Lombardi

Print This March 24, 2010, 10:30 AM EST

QUOTE: “When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free.” -- Charles Evans Hughes

Overtime in the playoffs

Tuesday, while many NFL head coaches were off playing golf, executives from each team — who don’t have to manage the game or make one play call -- passed a new playoff-only overtime rule. (One thing we learned is that as much as the head coaches run the game, the owners still own the game, and if they want change overtime, they will.) The new rule won’t be in effect until the playoffs, which means we might not see the rule implemented for some time. There have been only 27 postseason overtime games dating to 1958. In 22 cases, both teams had at least one possession

Now, the stress of managing the game just got harder for head coaches, especially in overtime. Based on this new rule, do you really think a team is going to try a long field goal? Finally, we might place the missed field goal in the turnover category. The risk of attempting a long field goal far outweighs the reward. Instead of attempting one, a team will either go for it on fourth down or punt and play the field-position game.

Let’s say it’s fourth and two at your opponent’s 30-yard line — what real advantage would you have attempting a kick? It might be better to keep the ball, go for it and try to score. The only time a team would attempt a field goal would be if it’s faced with a fourth and long (more than seven yards) and in chip-shot range. All these situations must be determined during the flow of the game.

The hard part will be determining the range of the kicker, especially in cold weather climates. In pregame, for example, most coaches determine the range of their kickers and the opponent’s kicker based on field and weather conditions. However, as the day goes on, there will be a change in those conditions that will result in a change of range for both kickers. This will be hard to determine during the game and might cause problems for the team winning the toss in overtime.

Coaches are going to have to spend the next few weeks going over every situation based on this new rule since it might be implemented in the regular season at the May meetings (no coaches attend). I don’t understand why this rule is good for the playoffs, but not good for the regular season. Why wouldn’t we want to test the rule in September and see how it might work in the playoffs? As Marilyn Monroe once said, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” Why not allow this new rule to be tested in the regular season and then adopt it for the playoffs? If you like the rule for the most important games, why not use it for the lesser games? All season, for every overtime game, questions will be asked -- why didn’t we just pass the rule? This difference will cause more questions than answers.

I agree that overtime needed to be changed, but I preferred keeping the game the same and adding time on the clock – just as in the NBA. I prefer to keep the game simple and not confuse fans with the notion that a field goal is not a good thing.

Pacman Jones

Lions GM Martin Mayhew said this about the possibility of signing Pacman Jones: "Nothing is imminent, but we'll definitely track down more information. He's a guy who has a skill set who can help us. He's had another year of being clean and staying out of trouble. He's got a better situation, a more stable situation, and he's got a lot of people out of his life who were in his life prior to now, from what I understand.”

A skill set that can help them? You have got to be kidding me.

What tape did Mayhew watch to determine this? Or is he listening to outside sources? Regardless of his off-the-field history, Pacman’s on-the-field performance should make the Lions stay away. They’re trying to change the culture of their team, and adding a player like Pacman will hurt, not improve, that attempt.

Jones is not a good player; just ask the Cowboys. Mayhew needs to understand that every player he brings into that locker room is an extension of him. He needs think hard about this decision and not rely on friends who might be telling him that Jones has changed.

Watch the tape. Jones is not a first-round talent who failed because of his character. He’s a first-round player who failed because of his talent and then his character.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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