A Refresher On NFL Rules Changes And Points Of Emphasis

Posted by Mike Wobschall on August 5, 2011 – 1:12 pm

I just returned from a meeting with Jeff Triplette and a few officials on his crew. They took some time to explain the rules changes and points of emphasis that will take effect this year. We’ve gone over the rules changes here on in the past, but it makes sense to revisit them right now.

– A new article has been added to Rule 12, Section 2 and it incorporates all rules regarding “defenseless players” into new a new article and it standardizes the defenseless players’ protection. The following types of players will now be considered defenseless: a receiver who “has not clearly become a runner,” a kicker or punter during a return, a QB following a change of possession (unless he enters the play in an attempt to tackle), as well as a player who takes a blindside block from an opponent “moving toward his own endline” and approaches from the back or side.

– Kickoffs have been moved back from the 35-yardline to the 30-yardline and now no kicking team player (except the kicker) can be lined up more than five yards behind its restraining line after the ball has been made ready for play.

– Previously defenders were penalized for any contact made to the head area of a passer, regardless of intent or how hard the contact. But now, hits to the head of a passer by an opponent’s hands, arms or other parts of the body will not be fouls unless they are forcible blows.

– There were also changes with regard to instant replay. A Replay Official will initiate review of all scoring plays throughout the game. The Replay Official cannot initiate a review for a team – and a team is prevented from challenging a play – if that team commits a foul that prevents the next snap.

Here are the points of emphasis mentioned by Triplette and his crew:
– The completion of a catch. Receivers must secure possession of the ball, get two feet down or another body part down in bounds and then after both of those are satisfied the receiver must make a football move common to the game.
– Runners grasping the facemask. Officials are going to cut down on the ability of a ball carrier to grasp the facemask of a defender. Stiff arms are still allowed, but grasping the facemask is illegal and so are forceful blows to the head.
– Horse collar tackles. This type of tackle is obviously dangerous and illegal.
– Illegal low blocks, specifically chop blocks and chips.

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