Originally I was going to make this a shot but a couple of these rules changes are absolute horse crap that I want to voice my opinion on them.
Their are a bunch of pretty major rule changes being suggested this year and pretty much all have to do with player safety. The league also said they will be cracking down on players who make what they deem illegal hits (and after I list the new changes you'll see what I mean by what they deem) and will be handing out suspensions along with fines.
Here's a link for the full story if you want to read it in more detail but lets look at the major meat
First on the agenda, hits deemed illegal. Aka hits to a defenseless player:
- A QB in the act of throwing a pass - so what, the pass rusher is just supposed to stop all motion toward the QB the second he moves his arm and allow him to throw the ball unimpeded. This is utter garbage
- A receiver in the process of making a catch - okay defense, basically there is no point for you to show up if you can't hit the qb while he's throwing and you can't hit the receiver while he's catching. Your only hope now is that the QB misses.
- A kicker or punter during the kick - what if the kick is blocked but the kicker is touched in the process? Is that now a penalty.
- A QB any time after a change of possession - so if a takeaway occurs, the defense is not allowed to block the QB while returning the takeaway. REALLY?
- A player fielding a punt - this eliminates the need for a fair catch. You might as well go the root of the CFL and give a 5 yard penalty to the kicking team if anyone is within 5 yards of the kick returner while he's making the catch. I do prefer the CFL no yards rule to the NFL's fair catch one and am not opposed to changing it, however forcing a returner to return a kick will not prevent injuries. The returner has the right to call a fair catch, this is a pointless rule that is just babying the returner.
The other illegal hit suggestions were either understandable or rules I thought were already in place.
The other major topic was kickoffs. The NFL suggested moving the kickoff up 5 yards to the 35 yard line and before the kick, only the kicker is allowed to line up more than 5 yards behind the kickoff line. This is an attempt to limit special teams injuries and I actually like it. My only problem is the suggestion that for touchbacks on kickoffs only, the offense gets the ball at the 25 instead of the 20. Sure why not. Although now that I think about it, this will probably make teams less likely to just kick touchbacks, completely negating the whole point of this rule change.
One rule the NFL could implement if it's really serious about player safety (and not just trying to boost scoring as some of these rules make it look like) is to take a page from the CFL. After field goals or maybe even touchdowns (in the CFL it's only after field goals you're allowed to do this), give the return team the option of either returning a kick or taking the ball at the 20 or 25, whichever one they decide. This could easily reduce the amount of injuries on ST's if teams just opt to take it at the 25 yard line instead.
Lastly, the NFL wants to make all touchdown scoring plays re-viewable and they must come from upstairs. Basically on scoring plays, the rules for reviewing a play will be the same as they are in the last two minutes of a half. Again no problem with this.
As you can tell I'm not too thrilled with a lot of what is being deemed an illegal hit. Yes they are defenseless players but now we're getting carried away. Basically the league is saying that a QB is a complete and utter pussy who shouldn't be touched in any way. I'm all for player safety and I've never had major complaints with the illegal hit rule changes before. Yeah it sucked when your team was penalized for them but you could understand why. Now you can't hit a QB while he's throwing a pass and you can't hit a receiver in the process of making a catch. Really league, hows the defense supposed to defend the pass now? Complete garbage.
Oh yeah and the league decided not to change the Calvin Johnson catch rule. The catch he made in the lions-bears season opener is still an illegal one.