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Reviewing the New NFL Rules for the 2010-2011 Season

The NFL meetings took place last week and most of the proposed rule changes went through, including the overtime one that we discussed on here a little over a month ago.

I was pretty surprised by the amount of owners who supported the proposal. After all, if it's been an issue for many years now and it passed as easily as it did, then why wasn't a change made several years ago?

Originally, there were two reasons to be opposed to the new overtime rules:

  1. One felt an alternative system would still have been a better option.
  2. The new rules would only apply to playoff games.

Thankfully, it looks like we might not have a regular season/playoff game discrepancy after all. According to the Associated Press, several owners expect the discussions of implementing the rule for the regular season to be voted upon during the May meetings. If it passed by a majority vote of 28 to 4 for the playoffs, I don't see how it could be voted down for regular season games.

Here are the other rule changes that will take effect next season:

  • Defenseless Receiver Anyone Rule: If you know the "defenseless receiver" rule, then you should have no problem understanding this rule change. The amendment now includes all players, meaning you can't launch yourself into a running back above the shoulders.
  • Blowing the Play Dead When Losing a Helmet: This only applies to the ballcarrier. I remember this happening to Jeremy Shockey once I believe, and I thought it happened to a tight end on our team too. If a ballcarrier has the ball and their helmet comes off, the play is blown dead with the ball to be placed at the spot where the helmet came off. This rule doesn't apply to the nose tackles who lose their helmet every other play.
  • Protect the Long Snapper Even More: In the past, you couldn't line up directly over the long snapper on field goals or punts -- you could only lean in to the area next to their pads, and if you were too close, the referee would give you a little tap before the play started. Now, it sounds like defensive players will be even further away from the long snapper.
  • Dead Ball Personal Foul Penalty (End of Half): Imagine the first half is over, and the play is blown dead. Now imagine that Derek Anderson rushes in from the Cardinals bench to midfield and pushes a member of the opposing team to the ground. Now, a 15-yard penalty will be assessed at the start of the third quarter instead of the half just being over. If the game is subject to overtime, the same condition applies at the end of a fourth quarter.
  • "Reasonable Opportunity" for Muffed Punts: If a punt returner waives for a fair catch and then the ball bounces off of their shoulder pads slightly, the coverage team cannot attempt to rush in and recover the ball until it touches the ground. The punt returner has first dibs on maintaining possession.
  • Jerry Jones Scoreboard Rule: This applies to any videoboard or wires that are above the field of play. If the football strikes it on a pass, punt, etc, the play is canceled and re-started with no time taken off the clock. If it is in question as to whether or not the ball was interfered with, the referee can announce that he is reviewing the play, even if it is not within the two-minute warning. If the referee doesn't want to bother checking, coaches may also choose to throw the challenge flag.
  • 10 Second Screwoff Runoff Rule: This one sounds like an unfair one to me. The rule states that if there is a booth review within the final minute of a half and the clock was running at the time of the challenge, there will be a 10-second runoff (teams can take a timeout to negate the loss of time).

    Here's a scenario where I see this being a problem. Imagine the Browns are losing 21-20 with 19 seconds left in the game and no timeouts left, and we are 35 yards away from the end zone on a windy day. Jake Delhomme fires a pass over the middle to Benjamin Watson, who makes a diving catch in the middle of the field. The clock at the time of the catch reads about 10 seconds, and our unit rushes back to the line in hopes to spike the ball with about 2 seconds left. But wait...(whistle blows)...the officials want to review the play to see if it was indeed a catch. They review the play and say this...

    "After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stands." (Browns fans cheer) "We will now runoff 10 seconds off the game clock. The game is over." Even I might participate in some bottle throwing then.

    Unless the rule wasn't fully explained, I see this potentially being a huge problem in a situation like this. Don't say these scenarios rarely happen either; they happen all the time, sometimes in the most critical of games.
  • Indianapolis Colts Rule: NOTE: THIS ONE IS NOT A RULE, AND IT IS MERELY UNDER CONSIDERATION. When the schedule gets made, Roger Goodell wants to look into ensuring that all Week 16 and Week 17 games have some competitive incentive (i.e. being division games) in hopes to reduce so many teams from resting their players (thereby making it easier for the other teams to win).

Feel free to leave your own comments regarding the rule changes, especially if you feel I have misinterpreted any of the rules.