Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NFL's Rule Changes Beneficial or Dangerous?

So, I just read about the NFL’s revision of rules to implement beginning in the 2011-12 season. They’re going to be harsher when dealing with dangerous hits to defenseless players and could be suspending players who commit these penalties. That’s all good and fine, except I’m seeing a list defining what a defenseless player is, and I have a major problem with it.

Listed below is what the NFL defines as a defenseless player:

» 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.

The 5 I didn’t bold, I agree with whole-heartedly. But the 3 bolded items? I have a serious problem with this.

At no point in football under the NFL throughout history has a “receiver trying to catch a pass” been off limits to contact. Defensive players have been taught for years and years to get in there and hit the receiver when the ball gets there. Now before you all say, “But Sean, they mean before the ball gets there,” no, they don’t. Case in point—look at the James Harrison hit in the Browns game. Or have a look at Dunta Robinson hitting DeSean Jackson when Jackson had the ball in his hands but wasn’t turned to see Robinson coming. I hate this, as it damn near ensures any receiver not looking at a defender while he’s in the act of catching is free to catch the ball before turning around. If the Massoquoi/Jackson rule becomes the norm, expect to see QB’s completion percentages rise, completions rise, yards after catch rise, and catches rise. Also expect to see even fewer tackles from corners.

Now on to a “quarterback in the act of throwing” and how terrible this idea is. Most QB’s get rid of the ball before a defender ever has a chance at getting to him; so now if a QB is pump-faking (see Tuck-Rule) they also add in that they’re in the act of throwing? I guess if the arm isn’t coming forward, you’re allowed to hit them? But if you’re running up and you see the arm JUST going back and you pull up because you know his arm will go forward before you can create contact and he ends up pump faking and stepping forward, and you’re out of the play because you pulled up, now you look like the worst defensive player ever, meanwhile QB’s are taking advantage of even more unfair rules.

Lastly, the “QB any time after change of possession” idea. This is by far the most retarded definition of a defenseless player. Not to mention, the Quarterback is still allowed to chase the play down and make the tackle on the player running the ball back. So because he’s a QB, he can run freely to stop a TD return on a fumble or interception!? You can’t set your blockers up to block him? No, don’t blindside a quarterback… don’t blindside anyone, but it should be specifically for blindside blocks… NOT blocking in any manner.

If this is what the NFL is proposing to “make the game better”, I propose the NFL stop fucking with rules without any idea of the negative impacts you have on football at every level. This spirals all the way down through college, high school, all the way to PeeWee football. Coaches who have coached the old way all their life after having been coached that way themselves, need to change everything?

How long before we see the NCAA “when the ballcarrier touches the ground whether he was tackled, tripped on his own feet or dove for a catch and was never touched” rule implemented? How long before we see flags strapped to player waists? How long before we see NFL football as we’ve known it for 45 mainstream years just eliminated completely?

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