Competition Committee is expected to propose change to grounding rule

Scoring was down in the NFL to 43.5 points per game, and the NFL attributes more backup quarterbacks starting games as one of three reasons for that. The league saw 66 different quarterbacks start for teams this season.

One way to protect quarterbacks (and increase scoring) is to change the grounding rules, something the Competition Committee is considering.

The league had 59 intentional grounding calls in 2023, with only two drives that featured an intentional grounding call ending with a touchdown.

The Competition Committee has discussed and will continue to discuss adjusting the grounding rule. They are considering a proposal to make no distinction between the quarterback being in the pocket or out of the pocket as there is now.

So, the quarterback, even if he was in the pocket, would only have to get the ball back to the line of scrimmage to avoid a grounding penalty.

The rule change, if adopted, would help officials and the replay assistant with determining whether to make a grounding call.

NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Thursday he anticipates a playing rule proposal “to adjust this.”

“We think about protecting the quarterback,” Vincent said. “There’s an opportunity here to look at that injury data. Most of the QB injuries occurred in the pocket. It may be time to evolve this particular call to protect the QB both in and outside the pocket as well as assisting the referee in that administration, because his eyes are actually on the QB. Did it make it make it make it back to the line of scrimmage?”

Defensive coordinators and edge rushers, in particular, will be opposed, considering sack numbers could plummet if the quarterback, while still in the pocket, is allowed to get rid of the ball without a receiver being in the area.

It will take 24 votes by ownership for the rule to change, though, and it seems likely to face some opposition.


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