Before the beginning of each season NFL officials meet to discuss the enforcement of specific NFL rules and rule changes. This year they have decided to change two rules. These rule changes will surely have an immediate impact upon the game and on officials. Here are the two rule changes that the NFL has decided to try this year:
1) Face masking: Officials will only call 15 yard face masking penalties now, no 5 yard penalties anymore. If a player unintentionally tugs or moves the facemask, the zebras will now let that go without penalty. This is good for NFL lineman and defenses, but the refs will get more scrutiny now by coaches for using their discretion on tough facemask calls.
2) No force out rule: This rule change is exactly what it sounds like. The force out rule from the past is now gone. This is a huge change, as defenders will now be coached to push players out of bounds if they are in the air or close to the sidelines. WR’s will have a harder job now, as they still have to get two feet in bounds for the catch to stand. This should make the games more exciting as players on both sides of the ball will have to be aware of where they are on the field at all times.
Each season, the NFL attempts to clean up the game with new rule changes and by telling referees to be strict on certain areas. These rule changes ultimately slow down games and cause more chaos. With the initiation of instant replay and red flags in the NFL, we are using technology to our advantage and trying to eliminate all human error. Replay is used in almost every NFL game and although it may help get a call correct, it slows down the game and destroys any rhythm or flow that an offense can get in. However, reversing a big call can do the opposite.
The rules adjust so frequently that if a bad one gets instituted, the next year it is thrown out. It was only a couple of years ago when the NFL clarified the “two feet in bounds rule,” and now it is amended again. With all the new rule changes each season, coaches and fans can hardly remember the NEW rules that come in each year. Instant replay has been relied upon more and more, even in instances when coaches don’t know what else to do. The one thing that is certain is that the constant rule changes are good for the game.