After a brief presser with NFL Officials yesterday, there are a few rule changes that need to be addressed.
- A new Article and “Rule 12″ deals with illegal hits on a defenseless player with the helmet, facemask, or shoulder. There will be absolutely no leading with the head and each violation will be a 15 yard penalty for Unnecessary Roughness. There are officially 8 types of “defenseless player” and are defined as such: QB after Pass, Receiver in the process of making a catch, WR not yet a “clear runner”, any player on the ground, the runner in the grass, the QB after a possesion change, the punter after a kick, and a player who receives a blindside block. In response to the QB after a possession change and any player receiving a blindside block, NFL Officials explained that as long as the defenseless player/QB makes no attempt to take part in the play, they can not be hit as described above. However, if the QB/Punter/Kicker/Player makes a football like move and attempts to be a part of the action, they are no longer considered a defenseless player.
- The NFL will be emphasizing illegal launching again this season. Illegal launching was described as “the leaving of both feet and delivering a blow to the head/neck area of the player”. Moving through the hit and delivering a legal blow to the chest or lower part of the receiver however is completely legal and will not be penalized.
- Hits to the head of the passer will now have to be a “serious or forcible blow to the head by the arm/hand”. The somewhat controversial and often “babying” of the QB when it comes to hits to the head will only come into play when such blows are serious. Grazing, glancing, incidental contact to the head/neck area of the QB will no longer be considered a foul.
- Kickoffs will be moved up to the 35 yard line and all special teams players MUST be no more than 5 yards behind the ball. The NFL made this a huge issue of player safety, not only by giving the kickers an extra five yards, but more importantly cutting down on the head-starts that were causing serious injury.
- Every single scoring play will be reviewed up in the booth. Although the NFL has still not completely figured out how to make this work to perfection, the basics are as follows. The rules of challenges in the last 2 minutes of each half will stay the same. Essentially apply those rules to each and every scoring play as well, and you have the basics on what the NFL is going to implement. If ruled a TD, the booth will take a quick look and either confirm or buzz the umpire and ask him to take a second look. The NFL insists that this will not have a noticeable effect on game speed/slowing the game down. Coaches will no longer have to challenge a scoring play/possible TD, the booth will automatically do it for them.
- Facemasking will be enforced equally, an offensive player may stiff arm but can not grasp the facemask and twist.
- Horsecollar tackles will as well be continually enforced as illegal by a 15 yard penalty.
- Illegal Chop-blocks/low blocks at the knees of players will also be given extra emphasis this season.
- The NFL will continue with the policy of keeping the referee out of the middle until under 2 minutes, and under 5 minutes in the 4th. There were no recorded injuries of NFL Officials on the field last season, and it gives the umpire a better vantage point minus the danger. They have admitted that although the defensive holding can’t be called as much, the statistical increase of these holding penalties was no worse than in past seasons. As well, moving them back to the middle under the 2 minutes, when teams are most likely going to be running the clock out, or advancing the ball down field with out routs and deep posts, they are in the least amount of danger there.
Tags: Unnecessary Roughness