NFL Rule Changes Are NOT Improvements

Two major rules changes have come out of the NFL Owners’ Meetings today; a one-year trial for a new player ejection policy and moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line. Earlier in the week we also had “clarification” on what constitutes a catch.

For my reaction, a picture is worth a thousand words…

Cowboys Headlines - NFL Rule Changes Are NOT Improvements

I will say that I’m fine with the ban on all chop blocks by offensive linemen. Defensive players have been legislated against too often and it’s nice to see something that looks out for their health.

I’m also glad they have made the new point-after kick policy a permanent change. Adding intrigue to any phase of the game is smart and the prior 2-yard PATs were a meaningless exercise.

So, good job on that stuff. But on the whole they’ve really screwed the pooch.

What the Hell is a Catch?

Our previous understanding of what a catch was was basically stated as, “a catch, two feet down, and a football move.” Sometimes a player making “a football move” was explained as “establishing himself as a runner.”

Cowboys Headlines - NFL Rule Changes Are NOT Improvements 1So now, Dean Blandino (the runner-up to Roger Goodell in the NFL “Biggest Bozo” rankings) has attempted to clarify things by saying that a proper catch is “control of the ball, two feet down, and time.”

That’s right… “time.”

How much time?  He didn’t say. Not like that’s an important detail or anything.

This is pure semantics; “time” is no less subjective or open to referee interpretation as the previous qualifiers of “a football move” or “establishing himself as a runner.” We haven’t moved once inch from the same confusing position we already had on this issue.

This shouldn’t be so complicated. Figuring out when a player had control of the ball is not hard to determine. Having two feet down (or taking three steps as Dez did in Green Bay) is clear. Making a dive for the endzone is about as much of a football move as you can have.

“Time” doesn’t solve anything. How many seconds is the difference between incompletion and a fumble? How long does someone have to stay in the endzone before you call the touchdown? How can a player diving out of bounds dragging his toes be a catch if he’s never established possession in the field of play with “time?”  Clearly, the inconsistency and interpretive issues aren’t going anywhere.

Way to go, Deano. You never disappoint us when it comes to disappointing us.

Thanks a lot, Bengals!

In what should be called “The Vontaze Burfict Rule,” a one-year trial on ejecting players after two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties has been approved. I hate it. Here’s why.

So many different things fall under the unsportsmanlike conduct and are subject to the whims and tolerance levels of each official. This is going to become like technical fouls in the NBA; a thin-skinned ref can change a game because he didn’t like the way a player talked to him, or he may feel a celebration was excessive when another ref didn’t.

Cowboys Headlines - NFL Rule Changes Are NOT Improvements 2When Burfict was trying to kill Steelers players on the field, THAT is a good time to toss a player. But the option to eject players has always existed. You don’t need this rule to remove potentially harmful elements from the game.

All this does is give the officials more ability to impact game outcomes. It doesn’t add anything that didn’t already exist and could be potentially disastrous. Look up “Joey Crawford & Tim Duncan” if you want examples of how out of hand this could get.

Let’s Just Change the Whole Damn Game

If you thought I didn’t like that stuff, you haven’t seen anything yet. The new 25-yard touchback is an abomination and makes you wonder just how stupid some of these rich guys are.

If the NFL wants to get rid of kickoffs then GET RID OF KICKOFFS. Why are we dancing around it? If you think they’re unsafe then it shouldn’t matter if the player catches the ball in the endzone or at the 10-yard line. Outlaw it and end the issue.

Last year there were seven touchdowns on kickoff returns in the 256 regular season games played; a 0.03% occurrence rate. According to, more than two-thirds of the league had touchbacks on 50% or more of their kickoffs. Some were as high 65% and a few even over 80% on taking touchbacks over bringing the ball out.

Cowboys Headlines - NFL Rule Changes Are NOT Improvements 3That is hardly worth changing one of the most standard traditions in the sport of a team starting at the 20-yard line. Why should legislation on an increasingly minor factor in the league forever change one of its most important aspects? This is the equivalent of taking a shotgun to a skin tag.

Don’t get me wrong; I love kickoff returns and would hate to see them go completely. But it’s clear that the NFL is determined to scapegoat kickoffs to look better on player safety. I’d rather they just eliminate them completely than start making all of these other rules and change football way more than necessary.

Rant over.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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