<
>

Ten takeaways from the NFL owners meetings

play
Clayton: Browns taking time picking QB (1:15)

ESPN NFL senior writer John Clayton breaks down why Cleveland holding on to Joe Thomas is good news for whichever quarterback the franchise ultimately pursues. (1:15)

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The annual NFL owners meetings have proceeded along in a quiet fashion.

There's no drama like the last meeting in Houston, when the Rams stole away the Los Angeles market from the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. The competition committee submitted eight rule change proposals; seven were accepted. The committee will further discuss the proposal that calls for a player to be automatically ejected if he commits two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one game. Still, the tone of the meetings has been subdued.

Here are 10 observations from the meetings so far, with NFC coaches still on the docket for Wednesday:

1. The success rate of a competition committee proposal is better than 90 percent in the past decade. The reason is the process. The committee polls coaches and general managers after the season. It holds enough meetings to craft proposals that usually get passed. Owners have no problem approving rules that promote safety. Eliminating all chop blocks and expanding horse-collar tackle penalties to defenders who grab the nameplate of the jersey breezed through.

2. Several coaches didn't seem to be in favor of the ejection of a player who commits two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. They pointed out coaches would try to get players to entice volatile players into making those personal fouls. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio came up with the funniest line, saying the league will push back the vote until the coaches were on the golf course and then pass the change.

3. An interesting debate will come Wednesday when the committee will have its second day of discussion on whether to change the spot of touchbacks from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. In some ways, this is a safety rule. Instead of having a returner make a return nine yards deep in the end zone, the rule change would promote more touchbacks, which could lead to fewer injuries on kickoffs. More debate on the subject is needed.

4. A surprising fact from the meetings: The Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos are now taking a patient approach to their quarterback position. The Browns are thinking about signing Robert Griffin III, but they aren't moving fast. New Browns coach Hue Jackson said it's more important to find the right quarterback instead of getting one quickly. For the moment, Jackson is content to know he has an experienced quarterback in Josh McCown and the chance to draft either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz. My read is Jackson may favor Goff, but he still likes Wentz. The decision will be tough. Broncos coach Gary Kubiak is also taking his time to assess the QB market after picking up Mark Sanchez in a trade.

5. The best thing I heard from Jackson was the definitive word that the Browns aren't trading left tackle Joe Thomas. The offensive line took too many hits with the losses of center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Trading Thomas would leave the line in a dangerous position for any quarterback brought in by the Browns.

6. Chiefs coach Andy Reid's announcement that outside linebacker Justin Houston had ACL surgery was the biggest news of the meetings. Houston is one of the best pass-rushers in the league. He could be out anywhere from six to 12 months, and his season is definitely in jeopardy.

7. I didn't exactly agree with competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay when he said a 10-man practice squad is better than a developmental league. With spread offenses dominating college football, the pool of young talent coming into the league needs to play and make the adjustment to the NFL. Players can't just do that in practice. They need games. Non-contact practices aren't enough.

8. Texans coach Bill O'Brien feels good about the signing of quarterback Brock Osweiler. O'Brien likes Osweiler's accuracy and toughness while standing in the pocket. O'Brien usually gets the most out of his quarterbacks, but let's see if Osweiler can play like an $18 million-a-year quarterback.

9. Don't hold out hope for owners to support too many additions to the replay system. The competition committee isn't for more additions because it creates too many stoppages in the games. The Redskins want to eliminate the need for two successful challenges to get a third. The Redskins also want personal-foul penalties to be reviewed.

10. Expect the Chargers to provide more details in the next week on what voters will be supporting or voting against in November in regards to building a new stadium. The worry for the Chargers is the requirement of a two-thirds vote to pass. It's going to be tough to get a two-thirds majority.