Tag:New NFL Kickoff Rules
Posted on: July 18, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 9:46 pm

New rule could make for longer games in 2011

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Every offseason, the NFL's competition committee convenes to discuss which rules to add, modify or scrap altogether. Mike Pereira, the former NFL Vice President of Officiating who now works for Fox Sports, writes Monday that in anticipation of the 2011 season, 121 NFL officials just completed a three-day clinic in Dallas where, among other things, they were apprised of the rules changes.

Some new rules were met with outspoken criticism (unsurprisingly, James Harrison took the lead on that), although the most controversial decision had to be the one that resulted in no change at all.

Last season, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a touchdown overturned against division rival Chicago after it was determined that he hadn't met all the criteria for what the NFL considered a legal catch. Crazy us, we just thought it involved, you know, catching the ball in the end zone.

If you can stand it, here's the play in question: 

No matter how many times we watch that replay, we always expect it to be ruled a touchdown since it looks ... just like a touchdown.

Pereira explains why, in fact, the pass thrown to Johnson is still considered incomplete.

"There were no substantial changes to the catch rule. There are three elements to a catch when going to the ground. First, you must get total control. Second, you must get both feet or another body part down. Third, and the trickiest, you must maintain control throughout the entire process of going to and hitting the ground. The ground can cause an incompletion in the field of play or end zone. The competition committee affirmed that the pass to Johnson was incomplete as the ball came out of his control when it hit the ground. He completed the first two elements of the catch but not the third."

This will placate almost certainly no one, but to quote every coach or athlete to ever talk to the media, "It is what it is." Moving on...

A rules change everyone can get behind: every scoring play will automatically be reviewed. The goal is to reduce missed calls and save coaches from wasting challenges, but Pereira notes that there will be unintended consequences, too. "There will be a lot more replay stoppages in 2011, and the length of games will increase. Neither of those is good for the game."

On this last point we can all agree. Presumably, even James Harrison.

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Posted on: March 22, 2011 1:13 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:15 pm

NFL announces kickoff and replay rule changes

Posted by Will Brinson

It appears the "tweak" faction won out with the NFL owners on Tuesday, as it's been announced that in 2011, kickoffs will take place from the 35-yard-line, while touchbacks will remain at the 20-yard-line.

Previously, it had been thought possible that touchbacks could be moved to the 25-yard-line in 2011, but that proposal was met with a storm of vitriol from many people around the league, particularly those teams with strong special teams units.

Some coaches believed -- and rightly so -- that moving touchbacks to the 25-yard-line would affect field position too much.

"Any time there's a touchback and now it's not coming to the 20," Saints coach Sean Payton said, "I think that that probably was the most drastic of the four or five items that constituted one rule."

Then, earlier Tuesday, Marvin Lewis, a member of the Competition Committee, let word leak that there was substantial consideration towards tweaking the rules while still improving player safety.

That tweak has taken place, and now two things remain to be seen. One, will this improve player safety? It seems likely, based on what we know about kickoffs and the strong possibility of increasing touchbacks while also limiting the length at which a wedge can build steam. (This seems like a good time to remind folks that the wedge has NOT been outlawed.)

"The bottom line is it's ... the highest risk of injury play," Saints coach Sean Payton said.

Latest from Owners Meetings

And two, will this decrease the enjoyment that fans get out of kickoff returns? It seems somewhat likely, since kicking from the 35-yard-line probably means less returns. Though it could increase the flashiness of big gains during kickoffs, thanks to players like Devin Hester being able to break the field wide open.

Speaking of player safety, two other proposals were deferred. First, a proposal to outlaw players launching to make a hit. And two, expanding the definition of a defenseless receiver.

"We didn't feel like there was enough support to get it passed," said Giants owner John Mara, a competition committee member. "A number of people seemed to be, in my opinion, more concerned about flags being thrown for questionable hits. My feeling is, I'm more concerned about needless concussions, so I'm willing to make that trade. But I think we need to go back and just clarify some of the language, maybe to make it a little bit more clear for everybody."

On the replay side of things, all scoring plays will now be subject to a replay by the booth (a rule which passed with a 30-2 vote), which no longer means that coaches need to feel concerned with throwing their red flags on an issue that occurs near the goal line. Additionally, coaches will continue to earn a third challenge if they win their first two, though that was considered as a possibility to be dropped.

Coaches pushed for the change in great part because they felt they didn't get a fair shake in road games.

"It's a real big competitive disadvantage," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You don't get that look at it on the road that you get at home; they just don't show it."

Oh yes, and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the "Boise Rule" -- NFL fields must remain green-colored. The logic here, apparently, is to keep teams from slapping sponsorships onto their surface that would discolor the playing field.

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