The owners have passed a new safety rule, according the NFLEvolution.com (essentially NFL.com), which could greatly affect the running style of many backs across the league, including Adrian Peterson.
Vikings fans can breathe a sigh of relief because it probably won't change much at all.
So we're all on the same page, here's how the rule breaks down according to Bill Bradley's article:
The new rule will draw a 15-yard penalty if a runner or a tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players clearly are outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle-to-tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or a tackler against an opponent would not be deemed a foul.
First of all, this is a nightmare to enforce, much like the leading with the helmet penalties on defenders. What's incidental? What's intent? I actually applaud the idea of the rule—how long have we asked why defenders are penalized for leading with their helmet (among other things) when we praise running backs for it.
I'm not sure this rule is as bad as we think it is, though again, it is going to be tough to enforce.
How does this change everyone's favorite battering ram, Adrian Peterson?
I don't think it will change much.
A whole lot of Peterson's success last year was getting through the line and to the second level. Most of the time when Peterson lowered his head, he was within the tackle box or no more than three yards off the line—within the realm of where it would be acceptable to do so.
Peterson was happy to run you over if you got in his way in the open field, but the majority of his contact (aside from when he was tackled) was at or near the line of scrimmage.
What about short yardage?
Well, most short-yardage situations are going to fall within that tackle box, so again, it shouldn't change how Peterson plays the game.
On top of that, this is a spot foul and not assessed from the line of scrimmage. In other words, a 70-yard run back will not be called back—rather the penalty yards will be assessed where the penalty took place.
Of course, how often are runners lowering their head at the end of a 70-yard run? Probably not often.
Honestly, it shouldn't change how most backs play all that much.
Don't spear. If you want to run someone over, keep your head up (which you should anyway).
Peterson will be Peterson, running through people at the line and breaking tackles.
"All Day" will continue to do so, all day.