Mike Pereira: How NFL can make overtime less boring, and why it will never happen
Each week throughout the NFL season, Mike Pereira, the league’s former vice president of officiating, will answer readers’ questions about officiating and league rules.
To put your questions up for Pereira’s review, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your name and location in the submission.
Q: In overtime, if the team that gets the ball first ran all the time off the clock and kicked a field goal, would the other team still get a chance?
Brent Losee, Pittsburgh
A: If this happens, Brent, the game would be over. The team that kicked the field goal would win and their opponents would not get an opportunity to possess the ball. This is the danger associated with the rule change in 2017 that shortens overtime from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.
It’s clearly not unheard of for a team to keep the ball for a full 10 minutes. I think you could expect it possibly to happen in overtime because teams might get more conservative with their first possession. Even if a team doesn’t use the full 10 minutes, minimizing the amount of time left for the opponent is obviously going to factor into their play-calling decisions.
I really think the league kind of reversed its thinking in saying that, “You know what, it’s OK if we have ties,” especially as it relates to the real reasons they did this. The league was concerned with a full extra period increasing the risk of more injuries. They were also concerned with a team going a full extra period and then facing a short week if they had a Thursday game.
I am OK with this rule change, then again, I don’t spend much time in Vegas.
Q: One thing that I have never heard explained is why, when each team has an active roster of 53 players, are they only allowed to suit 46 players on game day?
Jerry Fessler, Lodi
A: There’s really a legitimate reason why you only activate 46 players out of your roster of 53. It has to do with starting a game with 46 healthy players on each team. Inactive players are often dinged up but not injured enough to be put on injured reserve. They may be out for only a week or two.
So if you let everybody suit up, you could get a team that has 51 healthy players playing against a team that has 49 healthy players. So it’s really equitable to cut the number to 46, so that all of them are healthy in attempt to create a level playing field.
It used to be 45 plus one player you could designate as a third quarterback, in case your first two quarterbacks got injured. If that were to happen, you could activate that third quarterback during the game.
Q: Any good Sam Wyche stories? The father of the no-huddle offense? Last week was the one-year anniversary of his heart transplant. Was it tough officiating his games when he ran the no-huddle?
Greg Cosmos, Sacramento
A: Sam Wyche certainly is known as one of the really creative offensive minds that ever stepped on the field in the NFL. Do I have great stories about Sam? Not really because I started officiating in the NFL the year after Sam left as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But I know that from history, he was obviously creative with the no-huddle offense. I also know in talking to some of my colleagues who officiated some of his games, that he was a bit of a pain in the butt when it came to getting on officials.
But certainly, Sam had a big impact on the game. Is it hard for officials to work this new trend of no-huddle offense? It is because the pace is faster, so you’ve to get into position quicker. But it’s really harder on the replay system, because there can be less time for a coach to challenge a play or a replay official to ask for a review.
Without a score or a change in possession, the offense can get to the line quickly, which can prevent a replay being shown on television. No coach wants to lose a challenge and no replay official wants to needlessly stop a game for a review. Without seeing a replay on TV, a coach or a replay official ends up making a decision based on what he saw live or maybe with just a quick review of the live shot. So, while it is a bit harder for the guys in stripes, it is much harder for the guys in the coaching box or the suits in the replay booth.
By the way, it is even harder for the replay officials in college. Unlike the NFL, where the replay official assumes control inside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters along with all plays that result in scores and turnovers, the college replay officials have it for the whole 60 minutes. I have always said they have it much tougher than the NFL replay crew.
Mike Pereira is a rules analyst for Fox Sports who lives in Sacramento.