One of the highlights (or lowlights if you want) is when the NFL sends officials to specific training camps to discuss rule changes. Every year there are tweaks the rules and while some have little to no value, there are occasional rule changes that can have a relatively dramatic effect on the game. Barrows and Maiocco were all over the changes and I thought I'd break them out.
There has been talk about the league cracking down on gang signs and other celebratory antics. As interesting as that might or might not be, there are some on-field rules that are more important:
1. Force Out Rule - The only time [the force-out] rule will ever come into effect is if a defensive player literally carries a player out of bounds. Receivers must now have two feet down in the field of play.
I'm not really sure whether I was a big fan of the force out call or not. On the one hand, if I'm a receiver coming down with the ball and get shoved out of bounds it seems like I should deserve credit for the catch. At the same time, if a receiver catches the ball in the air and his momentum carries him out of bounds it's fair that's not a catch. Considering the size of these guys, it takes a serious push to get them out so I don't think it's the end of the world. And considering how often the rules are adjusted to favor offensive players, this seems like a fair balance.
2. Face-mask rule -There is no longer a 5-yard face mask penalty. A 15 yard penalty is the only option and it will only be called when twisting, turning or pulling result from the play. Additionally, an offensive player will be called for a 15-yard face mask penalty if they twist, turn or pull on the face mask while stiff arming somebody.
When they had incidental face masks as a potential call, it seemed easy for a defensive player to get flagged on what is a very subjective play. This change makes it a little less subjective because it seems like you really have to grab a hold of the face mask. At the same time, there remains a lot of subjective official judgment.
3. Football move for completion - Apparently a receiver no longer needs to carry out the proverbial "football move" for a pass to be considered complete. MM mentioned this would lead to more fumbles this season, which makes sense. When there is a review of a potential fumble, the announcers ALWAYS talk about whether a "football move" was made. I'm curious how many more plays are ruled fumbles and how many more replays of fumbles/receptions are upheld/overturned?
Just for the hell of it, with all these rule changes, here's a point for discussion. Do you find any particular rule in the NFL particularly stupid? If you're a college football fan, maybe you'd prefer the NFL adopt 1 foot in bounds for a reception to be allowed. Or maybe you'd prefer a variation on the intentional grounding penalty options.
Personally, I think the league needs to figure out a better way to deal with intentional grounding as a penalty. As is, if a QB just gets it past the line of scrimmage once he's outside the box it's not intentional grounding. I understand the need to protect the QB, but I also think if he just chucks it into the stands, there's something not quite right about that. Thoughts?