Atlanta Falcons CEO reveals a big reason why NFL is trying to make so many rule changes

Author:
Sportsnaut

The NFL is always looking for ways to increase revenue, which often means making the game more exciting for the casual viewer. It’s led to plenty of rule changes in the past with new proposals this year that will change the game even more. Now, Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay has shed light on why there are more drastic rule changes being pushed this offseason.

Team owners on Monday approved the banning of the hip-drop tackle, which many defensive players and analysts fear will make it even more difficult to play defense moving forward. There is also a rule proposal being weighted to dramatically alter kickoffs, which would result in more returns and better field position for the offense.

Related: Players blast National Football League for banning hip-drop tackle

Addressing reporters this week, McKay revealed that the NFL is concerned by the scoring dip it has experienced from 2020 to 2023. Because of this, different tweaks are being explored that could lead to higher-scoring games.

“Statistically, what gives us concern a little bit is scoring. Scoring this year at 43.5 is still above an historical marker, which has kind of been that 43 mark. But we were at 49 points per game during COVID [in 2020], and we went to 45 [in 2021], we went to 43.76 [in 2022], and now we’re down to 43.54.”

Atlanta Falcons CEO Rich McKay on the league’s concern regarding drop in scoring (H/T Pro Football Talk)

Related: What is the new NFL kickoff rule? Guide to new NFL kickoff proposal

There have been downward trends in some offensive statistics in recent years. Offenses went from averaging 5.6 yards per play from 2018-’20 to 5.3 yards per play this past season. Furthermore, per Pro Football Reference, the average points per drive in 2023 (1.88) was at its lowest since the 2017 season.

The increasing popularity of fantasy football and the NFL’s partnership with sportsbooks to help increase gambling among its fan base certainly play a part in this. While the NFL has said that its intention with the hip-drop tackle is to improve player safety, it puts further limitations on what defensive players can do to stop an opponent from getting more yards after the catch.

Between that and the wide discretion that referees receive to call defensive pass interference and roughing the passer, defensive players are going to have a more difficult time making legal tackles. If that leads to fewer takedowns and bigger plays, that would seemingly aid the NFL’s goal to increase scoring.

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