FanPost

Rule Changes

There are 3 proposed rule changes in the NFL for the following (hypothetical) season. There are some interesting characterizations of the proposed rules floating around, and I thought it would productive for us to discuss the rule changes.

Change One: A change in the rules covering instant replays (from PFT):

Coaches may no longer have the option to throw a red challenge flag after the other team scores a touchdown, as the NFL is considering a proposal to take instant replay on scoring plays out of the hands of the coaches, and have the replay assistant review all scoring plays.

The NFL’s Competition Committee revealed today that it is recommending that NFL owners adopt a change in instant replay, so that any scoring play — touchdown, field goal, extra point or safety — is automatically reviewed upstairs by the replay assistant. If the replay assistant thinks the call on the field was questionable, he will signal to the referee to review the score.

So all scoring plays would be treated the same way that the last two minutes of the game are treated

Change Two (probably subject to change one): Elimination of the 3rd Challenge

The Competition Committee is also proposing elimination of the third challenge, which coaches are allowed to use only if they win their first two challenges. The Competition Committee believes that the third challenge wasn’t successfully used often enough to make it worth the times it delayed the game.

Change Three: Suspension of players hitting other defenseless players

Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay and NFL Executive V.P. of Football Operations Ray Anderson both stressed on a media conference call today that they’re recommending that the owners get even tougher with hits on defenseless players. That includes expanding the definition of what constitutes a "defenseless" player, and suspending players for particularly egregious hits.

"When warranted, suspensions will be an effective discipline for us. We don’t want to go there but we will do that," Anderson said. "We need to be aggressive in disciplining."

McKay said that when the Competition Committee met recently, "Much of the focus was on the safety rules." In particular, the Committee is recommending that the owners vote next week on an expansion of the defenseless player rule to protect quarterbacks in the process of passing, receivers in the process of catching, runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler, returners fielding a kick, players on the ground at the end of a play, kickers and punters, quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession, and players who get hit by blindside blocks.

Along with Change Three: Special emphasis on repeat offenders

"In 2011, if there are repeat offenders or flagrant violators, we are going to hold them aggressively accountable, even if it means suspension — some folks believe that suspension is the real messenger in terms of serious enforcement," Anderson said. "Some of the hits we had this year, particularly if it’s a repeat offender, that person and that club should know that having that person sit out a game — or multiple games in certain circumstances — is very much on the table."

Change Four: Expansion of the definition of a "defenseless player"

McKay said that when the Competition Committee met recently, "Much of the focus was on the safety rules." In particular, the Committee is recommending that the owners vote next week on an expansion of the defenseless player rule to protect quarterbacks in the process of passing, receivers in the process of catching, runners who are already in the grasp of a tackler, returners fielding a kick, players on the ground at the end of a play, kickers and punters, quarterbacks at any time after a change of possession, and players who get hit by blindside blocks.

No word on whether or not they will simply expel James Harrison from the league for playing a violent game violently. For the record, I'm OK with them suspending players who take cheap hits on other defenseless players, but the expansion of the definition is absurd. In the process of passing? If you can't handle a hit while you're passing the football, you are not a quarterback in the NFL. As much as it pains me to say it, one of the most impressive passes I've ever seen had to be when Tom Brady passed a perfect bullet to Wes Welker without a single second of his passing motion uninterrupted. It was sort of like watching Jimmer Fredette make any basket that he's made. It's unexplainable.

Change Five:emphasis on the prohibition on launching

The Committee also wants to emphasize the prohibition on launching, which it defines as players leaving their feet, springing forward and hitting an opponent with his helmet or facemask.

Change Six: Kickoff rule changes

Falcons President and Competition Committee Chairman Rich McKay revealed on a conference call with the media today that the Competition Committee is proposing a major modification of kickoffs, moving the kickoff back to the 35-yard line instead of the 30, and giving the receiving team the ball at the 25-yard line, instead of the 20, if there’s a touchback.

In other words, it will be easier for the kicker to boot the ball into the end zone, and there will be greater incentive for the return man to stay in the end zone instead of running it out.

Change Seven: Kickoff Formation Changes

The Competition Committee is also proposing the elimination of all forms of the wedge block, including the two-man wedge, and requiring players on the kickoff team to line up between the 30-yard line and the 35-yard line. All of these changes, the Competition Committee believes, will cut down on injuries on kickoffs.

Perhaps this will shore up some of the perception that the league isn't concerned about safety. Maybe that will come at the cost of the perception that the league doesn't really much like football. Maybe it isn't about perception, and they honestly care about player safety. Or they could potentially be already defraying costs for what they see as an inevitable increase in health care outlays as a result of the CBA debacle.

What do you think?

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a <em>community</em>, that view is no less important.

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