The NFL has proven in recent years that it is willing to take some drastic steps in order to curb concussions and other high-impact injuries, but the latest idea might be the most radical one we've heard thus far. Dan Pompei of the National Football Post reported on Sunday that the league has discussed the possibility of widening the field in an attempt to make the game safer.
The field is wider in the Canadian Football League, which typically has fewer devastating hits than the NFL. It's up for debate whether the suggested cause and effect is pristine, because as Andrew Bucholtz of Yahoo! points out, there are other factors that going into making the Canadian game safer.
Regardless, it might help. And while it's still far-fetched and probably wouldn't be implemented for years to come, if at all, it's still fun to think about which NFL teams would benefit the most from such a change.
Bucholtz told me via email that he believes a wider field would change the expectations regarding how big NFL players have to be to contribute at that level.
"A wider field makes running sweeps wide right or wide left (not just off-tackle, but even further outside) much more productive, and it provides tremendous opportunities for screen passes or checkdowns to the running back in the flat," he told me. "In my mind, a wider field shifts things more towards smaller, quicker running backs instead of the power up the middle guys. It's the same on defense; CFL defenders tend to be smaller and quicker, because they have more side-to-side territory to cover."
With that being considered, the first team that comes to mind is Philadelphia, who features undersized linebackers and defensive ends and obviously has DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy leading a very small but fast offense. The Eagles appear to be getting away from that under their new regime, but take the 2012 team and put them on a wider field and I get the feeling they'd be a lot better.
Four offenses that would potentially benefit greatly from under-sized speedsters: Kansas City (Dexter McCluster), Arizona (LaRod Stephens-Howling), Atlanta (Jacquizz Rodgers) and of course New Orleans (Darren Sproles).
Defensively, the rich would also get richer. San Francisco's Patrick Willis would likely be even more effective with a wider field and more of a chance to show off his range. Same goes for Terrell Suggs in Baltimore. The Seahawks' front seven isn't necessarily small, but all that matters is that they're probably the fastest D in the league. Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons and Bobby Wagner would benefit from that increased width.
In the interest of parity, thank goodness this is all hypothetical.