League meetings have been ongoing in Phoenix, Arizona and plenty of news has been coming out. While most of us have our eyes and ears turned towards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers specifically, there are some league-wide things happening as well.
Specifically, one rule change has already been approved for the 2019 season and should stick around moving forward.
To expand protection of the player being blocked, @NFL owners voted to eliminate blindside blocks. One-third of all concussions on punts were caused by blindside blocks. With the rule change, any forcible contact by the blocker with his head, shoulder or forearm is prohibited. pic.twitter.com/abA2cENnXe— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) March 26, 2019
Player safety has been the drum pounded by the league for the last few years with some pretty substantial rules being put into place with health of the players as a focal point.
This is just one more rule to add to them as the NFL attributes 33% of all concussions coming on punts where blindside blocks were involved.
If this is the case, then I am in support of it. While I agree football is a physical game rooted in violent action between one man to another, it doesn’t mean we can’t tweak some things here and there to keep those men on the field.
Now, points of emphasis are going to be outlined as the off-season progresses and the pre-season gets underway. It’s very likely we’ll see a noticeable increase in these types of plays being noticed just like we did last pre-season with the helmet to helmet rule changes.
However, before we collectively panic about the game being ruined, let’s remember the uproar over last year’s rule changes died fairly quickly once we saw the regular season application of them.
The focus on this penalty appears to be more on the trajectory of the player. As a blocker, players will be expected to run sideline to sideline versus running parallel to the sideline. This is when the penalty will come into play.
At first note, it seems to me this will become something akin to a football version of charging versus blocking. If an offensive player is set - even facing parallel to the sideline - and isn’t moving with forward momentum, then perhaps it will be an acceptable play attributed more to lack of awareness by the defender rather than aggression by the blocker.
We’ll have to see how it pans out, but let us know what your initial thoughts are to this first rule change of the league year.