The coming of the new season brings owners, coaches, officials, and players many familiar things. Routines that become second nature to everybody involved with football that has developed since High School.
One thing happens every year that is predictably unpredictable; New Rules!
2020 Edition of rule updates and how they might affect the game
Here we’re going to break down each rule change, and how it is likely to affect the game for fun, and mischief I’m also going to include who presented the rule change and why, so we can theorize about various conspiracies; because why the hell not?
Rule Amendment #1 – By Philadelphia
Amend Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 – Modify the blindside block and prevent unnecessary fouls – Nothing to see hear apart from good common sense to make the rule easier to interpret from its current mouthful, this proposal is to simplify the rule. Considering the Eagles were not penalized once in 2019 for illegal blindside blocks, fans can rest easy that the City of Brotherly Love isn’t trying to gain an advantage. This hopefully will see fewer flags being thrown on legitimate “trap” plays or guards pulling and then getting a flag causing a loss of 15 yards.
Rule Amendment #2 – By Philadelphia
Amendment to Rule 15, Section 2, to make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul – Again this one is pretty straightforward and seeks to ratify the changes that were trialed last season and make the reviews permanent to uphold competitive equity; although this reporter will register their protest that many of the interpretations by officials being overturned seemed to be very cynical and, let’s be honest, not many people like being shown up at work and much less in front of a national audience who all saw the official screw up.
Rule Amendment #3 – By Philadelphia
Holy Hannah Philly! This isn’t even the last time they appear on the list, let us continue. Amend Rule 6, Section 1, Article 1 to provide an alternative to the onside kick to allow a trailing team to have a chance at retaining the football. This makes a lot of sense with a single (yes, 1 lonely-ass kick) being successfully recovered. The suggestion is for the trailing team, after they score, to attempt a 4th-and-15 play. The reason for this: To make games more exciting in the closing minutes of the game, this new rule would certainly work towards that goal as teams start getting into a rhythm and the team seeing their lead dwindle has to steel themselves against a rising hurricane of momentum.
Rule Amendment #4 – By Philadelphia
Okay, this is the last time the Eagles appear here, although they haven’t exactly been trying to influence the competition committee to stop the ticker-tape parade of yellow flags. Rule Amendment #4 is to amend Rule 16, Section 1 to restore pre-season and regular-season overtime to 15 minutes and to implement rules to minimize the impact of the overtime coin-toss – The proposal to eliminate the tie and improve fan engagement and competitive equity is one that makes sense, and I’m reminded of the recent overtime loss to Seattle, had the Bucs gotten that ball first in overtime the game was won, as we know the defense couldn’t stop traffic at a red light during that game and when Tampa Bay lost the toss we knew the inevitable outcome.
Rule Amendment #5 – By Miami
The Dolphins have proposed a rule change to Rule 4, Section 3, Article 2 to provide the option to the defense for the game clock to start on the referee’s signal if the offense declines an offensive penalty that occurs late in either half – Ok Miami, define “late”? This proposal comes under the guise of competitive equity, and this will certainly achieve that toward making games flow faster. Looking at the proposed change, this is something that will prevent offenses committing deliberate penalties that the opposing defense will decline in order to stop the clock, but won’t dramatically impact the game. It’s worth noting that many admirers of the re-imagined XFL were full of praise for the faster game pace and the reduction of the play being stopped; this is perceivably the build-up to adopting some of those rules to speed up gameplay.
Rule Amendment #6 – By Baltimore and LA Chargers
In at number 6 is a joint effort to amend Rule 19, Section 2 to add a “Booth Umpire” as a game official to the gameday crew – This is, on paper, a sound suggestion as it would put someone in the booth with full communication to the on-field officials. Many fans were aware exactly how bad the officiating was last year, and the fact that two franchises who fared differently are proposing this suggests that every team and owner saw just how bad it was. The idea is great and would put an extra pair of eyes on the action so we can lose the age-old excuse of “I had an obstacle in my line of vision so I couldn’t call the blatant pass interference that everybody else saw” because someone will be looking from on high. Hopefully, this official isn’t purely for show and is given the authority they need.
Rule Amendment #7 – By Baltimore and LA Chargers
Seems that the Ravens and Chargers have been in cahoots this off-season. The proposal to amend Rule 19, Section 2 to add a “Senior Technology Advisor” to the officiating crew – This clearly is linked to proposal #6 and is seeking to assist the officials in getting fewer calls wrong as the Booth Offical will probably have a constant stream of information from the technology advisor to analyze plays in real-time. I wonder if he’ll get to play on an X-Box too?
Rule Amendment #8 – By Competition Committee
I love these Competition Committee rule updates because often it suggests they are recognizing when they got it wrong and they need to either update, amend or completely reword a rule, also they are often a cause of controversy as the officials are never entirely sure how to interpret the new version of the rule. This proposal is for expanding the protection of a defenseless player when in possession of the football after a kickoff or punt return – Who are they trying to kid? The majority of kickoff’s in 2019 went into the endzone for a touchback (Tampa Bay, leading the league with 89.8%) and less than 30% kicks, TOTAL reached the 26-yard line. Players fielding a KO are pretty much never defenseless because of the time they have to establish possession and begin making “football moves” (I’m not going on a rant about what exactly is a “Football Move” here). This leads me to believe that the rule is specifically designed to further protect punt returners and the KO is just part of the language. Punt returning in the NFL is probably one of the scariest things to do for a job; imagine someone weighing around 200lbs of muscle running very, very fast at you while you’re concentrating on this thing falling through the sky. Now imagine that you have to catch this weird shaped object, avoid the guy, or guys, attempting to split you in two and then make positive yards downfield. It’s a dangerous job for sure! But that is what the Fair Catch was invented for, and this new rule is going to cause issues for next season when punts are being returned, and the on-field crew struggles to guess if the punt returner had enough time to secure possession and gain enough awareness to ward off or avoid an incoming player. This proposal needs to be shelved.
Rule Amendment #9 – By Competition Committee
Here we go again with something that not even Alan Turing could figure out! Proposal number 9 is to make amendments to Rule 4, Section 3, Article 2 and re-specify what is a Scrimmage Down and prevent manipulation of the game clock by committing multiple dead ball fouls while the clock is running – This isn’t really an issue, and many of the proposed amendments are already covered under “Unsportsmanlike Conduct” fouls and how are the officials supposed to rule if a foul was an error of judgment, miscommunication or a cynical attempt to manipulate the clock? Once again, the competition committee is making moves and suggestions to be seen to be doing something and need to be tapped on the nose with a newspaper (This is a joke! I neither condone or encourage violence against any person or animal) and told to go back to their basket.