The NFL Annual Meeting is continuing and the verdict is now in on these proposed rule changes that have been making the rounds in the Whisperverse.
In 2013, it will be illegal for a runner to lead with the crown of his helmet outside of the tackle box, but the NFL stresses that it’s not a foul officials will be looking for.
They can still protect themselves. They can still get low. They still HAVE to protect themselves. The rule is written so as to flag a runner only if the infraction is blatant. The officials know there’s going to be “incidental” contact between helmets on tackles, especially when the runner knows he’s about to be hit.
They can still lower their helmet and use their shoulder pads to “lead” into a defender, but the idea is that a helmet is supposed to be a protective device; not a weapon.
While that may be common sense to us, we’ve seen runners “spearing” defenders for ages. The defenders have been prohibited from helmet-to-helmet contact and just ask James Harrison about that rule. He’s probably paid more in fines over the past few years than I’ll see in lifetime earnings!
The Bengals were the only team to vote against the rule change, but players will adjust and will hopefully cut down on head injuries.
Another rule change, which is undoubtedly a lot more popular with players and coaches alike, is the elimination of “The Tuck Rule.” I’ve always hated that rule, and it’s directly responsible for the Oakland Raiders‘ playoff loss to the New England Patriots a dozen years ago in the Massachusetts snow.
In that game, Tom Brady was hit while in the process of bringing back – or “tucking” – the football after deciding to throw. It happens when a QB changes his mind about tossing a pass at the very last split-second. It used to be ruled as an incomplete pass if the QB lost the ball while in the process of doing so.
“If the quarterback loses control of the football while bringing it back to his body, it is now a fumble,” says St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
I’m SO glad the NFL figured that out after more than a decade!
Illegally challenged plays will now be reviewed. I’m not quite sure what that’s all about, since they’re now rewarding coaches for breaking rules, but it is what it is I guess. Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz will be happy now, I’m sure….remember Thanksgiving Day last year? This rule change is really the “closing of a loophole” but makes for some strange logic to get to the end they wanted: Reviewing obviously blown calls. It’ll cost the challenging team a timeout.