The NFL has been slow in advancing its use of technology, but they have an interesting experiment planned for next month. The league’s senior VP of officiating, Dean Blandino, told the Toronto Star that this preseason, the league will stick computer chips into the footballs used for field goals and extra points. The plan is to determine if the uprights should be narrowed to make field goals and extra points a little more difficult. The plan is to use these in preseason games, and if it goes well, use them in Thursday night regular season games.
Blandino also mentioned areas that would be “points of emphasis” on the field. A point of emphasis is basically a rule that is not being properly and/or sufficiently enforced, and the league is telling the refs to keep a closer eye on them. Blandino mentioned three points of emphasis this season:
- Low hits on the quarterback in the passing posture. He said, “[t]he quarterback in the passing posture in the pocket gets protected from hits in the knee area or below — forcible hits. And it’s incumbent on the defender to avoid (that area) when the contact is avoidable.”
- “[R]unners — quarterbacks for the most part — who slide to gain additional protection. So any runner can slide feet first and gain special protection, and actually be treated like a player who’s down by contact. But the key is you have to slide feet first, and you have to slide before contact is imminent … If they slide any other way than feet first, they don’t get additional protection.”
- “[C]rown-of-the-helmet hits by defenders on runners outside the tackle box ... In the past the defender had to line up the runner, lower his head and use the crown to make forcible contact. The committee looked at that and we’re eliminating the line-up provision, so any forcible contact with the crown of the helmet — the very top of the helmet — to a runner outside of the tackle box will be a foul, regardless of the path the defender takes.”
I’m sure NFL officiating will continue to be its usual consistent, quality self in 2016...................
On a related note, the NFL has published a searchable 2016 NFL rulebook if you want to bookmark it.