Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rules Changes in the NFL

Strangely, no poker content today, other than to congratulate my good friend wwonka69 on winning like his fourth Mookie last night. I know we have had our differences over time, but let's be honest. The man has won the Mookie a bunch of times, so obviously he is great at poker. Gotta face facts.

Today's topic is going to be the new rule changes in the NFL. In the annual owners' meetings, several new rules were passed, and out of the blue it was all they were talking about this morning during my commute on ESPN Radio.

The first rule change is the elimination starting in the 2008 season of the "push-out" rule. Starting this year, NFL officials will only have to rule whether a player landed in bounds or out of bounds on receptions made at the sidelines. No longer can a player be ruled in-bounds just because he made a catch in bounds in the air but was pushed by a defensive player until he landed out of bounds. Now if you're pushed out of bounds, you're out of bounds.

Why would they do this? Are there really owners who put this shit at the top of their list of important things to do with the NFL this year? So now the quarterback can throw a nice pass to, say, two yards inside the sidelines, an athletic player can jump up and one-hand catch it while he's falling over, and then get bounced out of bounds in the air and it won't be a catch? I don't get it. I mean, I could see if maybe the pass is thrown to a part of the field that would be out of bounds if the sidelines extended up into the sky or something, then maybe fine, the pass was kinda out of bounds already, so why get credit for being pushed out by the defense. But I can't believe that now I already know that at some point in a key spot for somebody this year, someone will throw a pass clearly in bounds, it will be caught by a player jumping straight up from clearly in bounds, he will be pushed out in the air and the team will lose the catch because of this rule change. And I am still trying to figure out why why why? And meanwhile, this particular change was approved unanimously, 32-0. Of course.

The next rule change is that most field goals are now reviewable by instant replay. Apparently the previous system prohibited any replay reviews for any field goals, period. Really? And who was the genius behind that brilliant one? Again I am left scratching my chin and saying "hmmmmmmmmmm". I mean, there are only two kinds of offensive scoring in the entire game of football, and you are going to immediately strike out reviewing any of one of those two kinds? Why? Are there going to be so many field goals that need reviewing that it will slow the game down that much? No field goals reviewable until now in a league that has had instant replay for years? What a joke.

The third rule change that I find interesting is the elimination of the 5-yard facemask rule entirely. Now the officials will only have to decide whether the facemask was significant and intentional -- which will bear the usual 15-yard penalty associated with a facemask -- or rather if it was unintentional and insignificant, which will draw no penalty at all. This is the first time in my life basically that an NFL player will be permitted to incidentally grab a facemask and even pull it a little bit but expressly not get a penalty for the play. It makes me wonder what the rulesmakers thirty years ago were thinking when they decided to treat the facemask as such a serious infraction. Hopefully we won't see defensive players getting more lax about going near the facemask as a result of this rule change. Definitely another one that surprises me to even be on the owners' horizons, personally.

Lastly there was a rule change from earlier in the week that I liked, but even that one I think is still behind the times. The Rules Committee voted to allow a defensive player to wear an intercom in his helmet to allow him to hear coach-to-defense signal calls. But only two helmets on the entire defensive team will be permitted to contain such intercoms, and only one such helmet will be allowed on the field at any given time. Now, I am all about using technology fairly and without harming the game or cheating in sports. In this case, I struggle to understand why every player on the field isn't permitted to have an intercom in their helmet.

Seriously. Think about basketball or hockey. There, the arenas are small, the coaches sit or stand right on the sidelines, and more or less all the players on the court or the rink can hear the coach or the assistant coaches yell if the coaches want or need to communicate with their players. Any of the players they have on the court.

Now think about the big-arena sports. In baseball, it's not like Joe Girardi can yell out to Hideki Matsui out in right field and be heard. But, baseball is a sport where the coach doesn't really need to bark out orders on a minute-to-minute basis like the other sports. Plus, baseball has some set period of time before every action, before every pitch, before every swing, and in that time the coach can and does give signals to those of his players that he considers key decisions for that particular play. Football moves a little faster, however. For example, if the offense chooses to adopt a no-huddle offense, the defensive players might likely have no opportunity whatsoever to obtain signals from their defensive coordinator on the sidelines. They can't possibly hear their coaches yelling to them in most cases unless they are standing within a few feet away from the sidelines. Any why not let them talk? Seriously, what's the problem? In my world, there would clearly be a speaker inside every player's helmet on the field. Why not? Let the coach call the plays so everyone can hear them, let the coach advise the players how to react as the play unfolds. Isn't that what happens in basketball? In hockey? Most things that increase the ability for the players and coaches to communicate, as long as it is done equally for both sides, are fine with me.

Oh yeah, one other thing: the owners voted down a proposal that would require players' hair to be short enough such that it does not cover their name tag on the top of the back of the jerseys. Good for you, assholes, ya finally got one right. They say it's all about image. Give me a break. Long-haired players are some of the most popular NFL jerseys in the league right now, and what exactly is "wrong" about the image that long haired players portray, huh? Seriously, the stuff that people spend their time thinking about can really blow the mind.

OK, Riverchasers tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt. Password as always is "riverchasers". Tons more events -- basically twice as many as we've had so far -- are left in the BBT3 and that means tons more chances to get in to the series-ending Tournament of Champions, which now is set to have a maximum of 53 entrants and which will award two WSOP Main Event packages and two preliminary WSOP packages as well to the top four finishers. See you tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt!



Blogger StB said...

Technically, there are more than 2 offensive ways to score points. 2 point conversion isn't really special teams. Also it is possible for the offensive team to score a safety (turnover and the defensive player moves back into the end zone and gets tackled).

The hair rule was just stupid. I want to see someone get yanked down by their dreadlocks. They may change their choice of hairstyle. Also, supposedly someone was considered down because their hair hit the ground and not their body. Not sure this happened but again, a team may make them choose a different do.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Luckbox said...

Why should a player who's unable to get his feet in bounds be credited with a catch? That had to be one of the dumbest rules in NFL history.

If you are out of bounds, you are out of bounds. That's like saying a running back should be allowed to keep running if he was just pushed out of bounds but not tackled.

Defenders should have the right to use the sideline as a defender. Out of bounds is out of bounds. I can't understand why anyone would argue against that.

10:54 PM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

You must have never played hockey. I played goalie. I had no idea what the coach was yelling or even the other players at the other end. The rink is a bit bigger than you'd think not to mention the crowd noise and yelling just echo in there.

What is wrong with hand signals anyways? Its been working in most sports for centuries. I believe the day is coming soon when football will be ridiculously stupid at the NFL level. Basically, we are heading for robots controlled by joysticks from the booth. The vibrating magic football game of our youth.

The pushed out rule is actually a fairly new rule. It was only recent that it went into effect that a player could no longer be pushed out.

Heck, I'd like to see the forward progress rule thrown out. If you can't get your knee down at the end of good run and some 300 pound linebacker pushes you back 20, its your own fault for being to weak to push back. Coach always said to get low. This rule just lets people run sloppy and upright. Get the shoulder down and fight like a man.

Most of these rules are designed to favor the offense because high scoring games draw, supposedly. I must be old school because I like a game where every point is a struggle and every yard is a battle.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sideline is there for a reason and in every single other sport you are either inbounds or out of bounds.

I'm glad they finally got this rule right and took away the "judgement" of a 60 year old referee. Two feet in or no catch period. I love it.

I so wished they made all those gangster thugs cut those nappy dreads. Imagine is important if you ask me. How many gangster thugs wearing dreads to you see in your office?

11:24 PM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

Yeah, the "force out" rule was completely subjective and often ridiculous, and I don't know why it's taken so long to get rid of it. College gets by just fine without it.

I don't get ohcaptain's comments about these rules being about the offense.

-No force out? Advantage defense
-No 5-yard facemask? Advantage defense
-Defensive intercom? Advantage defense

The last rule makes sense, because the QB can wear an intercom so he can call the plays in the huddle, now the captain on defense can do the same. Simple as that. No need to give them to everyone.

11:51 PM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Running backs when stiff arming have always been able to get away with contact with facemask.

The forceout was always such a judgement call and not subject to instant replay. I am sure there were many times referee reviewing a play for inbounds would see they should have called a forceout.

Aerodynamic is the only way to go with airstyle.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Blinders said...

Just wait till a reciever jumps up in the middle of the field to make a catch, and the defender catches him, carries him over to the sideline and dumps him out of bounds. No catch! After a few of these they will eliminate the rule.

1:03 AM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

I guess what I was refering to was the push out rule and the forward progress rules were about the offense. I like that they are changing the status quo back some, but I still think it has a long way to go.

Eliminating intentional grounding inside the pocket is still there and that just gives the offense an extra time out. Stupid. I know, loss of down, but its still a time out. Why not just exchange a down for a timeout?

The offense has had speakers in the helmets for a while. I hated that rule. Use hand signals or call a time out or hire a QB smart enough to run the offense himself.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

I echo what OhCaptain said.

I might be half-deaf, but there's no way you could hear much coming from the coach while on the ice unless you were right up against the box on the side.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Wwonka said...

Thanks for the Props But I am in now way A great Player. Just a Lucky Donkey.

Hoy tell you what you teach me how to play and I will show you how to win a Mookie. Deal?

I think it was about time to get rid of the 5 yard Face mask penalty when They never called it on the Offense.

New Blog is


6:28 AM  

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