1. Expand instant replay to include all plays, including penalties.
Yes, it’s a slippery slope when you make subjective calls a part of replay, and yes, it opens the door to unintended consequences. But with replay so much a part of the game, and with some penalties — particularly pass interference and holding – having sometimes game-deciding implications, why not add them to the coaches’ challenge system and at least offer another layer of analysis to get the call right.
2. Use laser technology at the goal line, for first-down mark and above the goalposts to better assist in getting plays right.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has suggested this in the past, and he’s right. With technology already a big part of the game — see: instant replay — why not use more of it to better determine whether or not a touchdown was scored, a first down was made or a field goal was converted on a kick that sails over one of the goalposts.
3. Reduce the preseason to three games.
Even commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged the need to lower the number of preseason games because they’re simply not a worthwhile product. While there are economic concerns that would ultimately affect the league’s bottom line by removing a game, taking away one preseason game will hardly make a financial ripple. No need to add a 17th regular season game; 16 is perfect. Just have a bye week between the preseason and regular season and be done with it. (No need to change the playoff format, either. It’s fine just the way it is.)
4. Eliminate the requirement that all teams must play Thursday nights.
Players and coaches mostly detest playing a Thursday night game, and fans have been lukewarm to the permanent addition of an extra night to the schedule. So why not schedule Thursday night games for the second half of the season and simply schedule more appealing games, rather than force every team — especially the bad ones from the year before — to play on Thursdays.
5. Use a more equitable system in dealing with appeals of player discipline.
The league’s handling of its various disciplinary issues (Ray Rice, Tom Brady, Bountygate, Ezekiel Elliott) has led to protracted legal battles that have tarnished the game’s image. NFL owners will hate this idea, but going to a system where appeals are heard by an independent arbitrator will at least offer a chance to give players a better avenue to make their case and potentially avoid long and costly court battles.