The XFL is in Austin, TX for the next couple weeks testing some rule changes and innovations with The Spring League. Yesterday they held an event to discuss a variety of different changes and innovations that they plan on trying out during these test games.
One focus area they spoke about was how there is not much RND (Research and Development) that happens in football today. The XFL has the unique opportunity to test these items out in real-time prior to the start of their league. As they are testing new innovations they are being cognizant that they do not want to add anything to the game that could be labeled “gimmicky”.
The XFL is looking to be fast-paced, but what does that mean? To boil it down, they are looking to minimize idle time on the field, increase meaningful action, create a more rhythmic feel to the overall game, as well as focus on creating a safe game that feel like traditional football. If everything goes as planned, we would be looking at a game, that even with overtime would clock in under 3 hours.
One thing they stated during this event is that nothing is set in stone, everything they are testing is just that, testing. We can look forward to seeing the final rule book sometime this summer.
Unlike the AAF, the XFL will have kickoffs. From the looks of it, it seems to be similar to the CFL. There would be a 5 yard halo-rule, with no fair catch. Twitter user @ConfirmedShoot posted an image from the test game showing what the formation would look like.
Similar to the kickoff, there will still be a 5 yard halo rule with no fair catch. One thing to remember, is the 5 yard halo is dependent on the ball and not the player. Meaning, if the ball hits the ground and bounces towards the kicking team, the players will need to retreat until the receiving team picks up the ball.
Unlike the NFL, the XFL will not utilize kickers after a touchdown. Instead the scoring team will have three options:
This will give the opposing team more chances to get back into the game, which should create a more exciting game for the fans. An interesting aspect of this is also how they would handle interceptions that result in a score. If this is to happen, the defense would receive the amount of points that the offense was attempting. For instance, if XFL Houston is going for a 3 point attempt and XFL Seattle intercepts and runs it back, Seattle would receive three points.
As of now, it seems that the XFL is testing the ability to have multiple forward passes. All passes would need to be performed behind the line of scrimmage. If the QB passes to another player and becomes the receiver they will be treated as any other player and would no longer be protected by QB safety rules. This would potentially open up more plays for the backup QB, or at least that is a thought at the moment. If any of the passes are incomplete, the whole play is incomplete.
As part of keeping the game up tempo, the XFL is aware that officiating is going to play a key part of that. There will be a dedicated ball spotter to ensure that time isn’t wasted setting the placement after each play. They will also have a officiant in the booth, much like the AAf and it’s Sky Judge. There will be replay reviews, but they are looking at ways to expedite the process.
Probably the most intriguing innovation they are testing out is new overtime rules. Again, a huge focus that they are working to achieve is keeping all of the games under 3 hours, including overtime. To achieve this, and give each team an opportunity to score they are testing rules similar to hockey and soccer. Both teams offense and defense would be on the field at the same time starting at the 5 yard line. Each team would take turns attempting to score, with each touchdown accounting for one point. If there is a tie after 5 rounds, then it becomes sudden death. Whoever scores first, wins the game.
There will be 4 refs on each side, with a ref in the booth similar to the AAF’s Sky Judge to officiate the plays. If the defense commits a penalty the ball would move to the 1 yard line, if they commit a second penalty, the offense receive a point. Alternatively, if the defense intercepts the ball or recovers a fumble then they would receive a point. With these rules in place there will always be a winner, no ties in the XFL. Another interesting note that came out of this was that Luck mentioned that they have spoken to their broadcast partners about this strategy and they are on board. There was no word on who those broadcast partners are, but we have heard rumors that it may be ABC/ESPN and FOX/FS1.
What are your thoughts on the different rules and changes that the XFL is testing out? Join our community on discord and let’s keep the conversation going.