Over the course of this past week, the National Football League passed some rule changes. Since we haven't really taken a close look at them to this point, let's do that and see how some of them could affect the Minnesota Vikings.
The biggest one seems to be the rule that touchbacks on kickoffs will now be brought out to the 25-yard line, rather than to the 20 as they've been in years past. The rule is the same as what they have in college football, and it appears that it will only apply to kickoffs. . .touchbacks on interceptions, punts and other instances will continue to be brought out to the 20.
This is something that could affect the Vikings a great deal, and specifically return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson. With the incentive to simply blast kickoffs through the end zone somewhat negated by an extra five yards in field position, teams could instead try to hang kickoffs near the goal line and force the returner into a return. That would give Patterson more opportunities to return kicks, but since such kickoffs would come with an increase in hang time, special teams defenders would then be in a better position to bring him down after a minimal return. Obviously, we're not going to know how it really affects him until we actually see the rule in action, but it will likely have an impact one way or another.
Another big rule is the complete banning of "chop blocks" for offensive players. This does not mean that all low blocks are now illegal. A cut block, which is still legal, involves an offensive player blocking a defender below the waist. . .those are still legal. On the other hand, a chop block is a block that sees a offensive player block a defender below the waist while the defender is engaged with another offensive player. There were a few instances that those types of blocks were not being flagged, but those have now been eliminated. You can get a full wrap-up on what that means from this article, courtesy of the mothership.
Some of the other rule changes that were adopted include the permanent move of extra point tries to the 15-yard line, and the fact that a player receiving two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct in one game will now be ejected. You can get the full list of rule changes that were adopted by the league for the 2016-17 NFL season at the NFL's Operations web site.