The NFL owners have been meeting this week in New Orleans, along with other front office executives and coaches. On Tuesday, the owners voted on the rule changes that were proposed last week by the Competition Committee. Most of the changes centered around kickoffs, under the name of making the high impact play more safe for all involved. It seems that injuries happen on a higher percentage of kicks than any other play, and the investments need to be protected. We know that Dez Bryant suffered his season ending injury on a kick return, so it does provide food for thought for Cowboys fans.
With the coaches in town, people that are actively involved in the actual game on the field were able to weigh in on the topic. They didn't seem all too pleased from the soundbites before the decisions were made.
"I don’t like idea of eliminating the kickoff from the game," [Bill] Belichick said via Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. "It’s one of the most exciting plays in football."
"I like the intent," Garrett said. "You can’t argue with the statistics. Now what’s the best way to achieve the goal? I don’t think it's all of the five components out there."
"People will vociferously argue on both sides that it helps that guy because everybody says everybody can do it," Garrett said of a kicker who doesn't have a strong leg.
"It’s a momentum thing," Garrett said. "A two-man wedge, all those things. It's kinda mixed in a sense incentive wise, because they are talking about the touchbacks come out to the 25-yard line."
Follow the jump to see which rules were approved.
Here's a recap of the proposals and what the decisions were on each.
1) All kickoffs will now be done from the 35 yard line, instead of the 30. Approved, 26-6.
2) All touchbacks will be brought out to the 25 yard line, instead of the 20. Retracted by the committee so #1 could pass.
3) Kickoff blocking is set to undergo another change. A few years ago, wedges of more than two people were outlawed. Now, all wedge blocks will be illegal formations. Contested by the coaches, not approved.
4) All players will be required to lineup between the 30 and 35 yard line (less head of steam). Approved.
5) All scoring plays will be subject to instant replay review, without use of a coaching challenge. Approved.
-- 5b) Competition committee wanted to eliminate the third challenge when the first two were successful. Retracted by committee so #5 would pass.
6) Repeat offenders for illegal hits will get suspended this coming season.The rules determining a defenseless player were to be expanded. I wrote last week:
-- A quarterback in the act of throwing; A receiver trying to catch a pass; A runner already in the grasp of tacklers and having his forward progress stopped; A player fielding a punt or a kickoff; A kicker or punter during the kick; A quarterback at any time after change of possession; A receiver who receives a blind-side block; A player already on the ground. A player who is breathing; A player who has eaten nachos in the last two weeks; Players with freckles. OK, the last three I made up. I think.
It turns out that the owners weren't able to agree to the rule as it was written, and the vote was tabled for a future owners meeting. The measure is expected to pass when it does go to vote, though.
So what do you think of the new NFL folks? In agreement with the changes?