The buzz around the league this afternoon surrounds a new rule the NFL has adopted that will penalize offensive players for lowering their heads (per CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora) and leading with the crown of their helmets.
While the rule technically applies to offensive ball-carriers in general, logic indicates the the more you run, the more you'll expose yourself to flags for helmet-leading infractions. Teams with aggressive, hard-charging running backs and balanced attacks will be impacted more than teams that run pass-heavy offenses.
So while nobody in the NFC East relies too heavily on the run (at least in a traditional sense), the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys will likely be more vulnerable here than the New York Giants.
It would appear the 'Skins would be in the most trouble, since they ran the ball more than all but two other NFL offenses in 2012, but 123 of those 519 carries came from quarterbacks. Safe to assume the Redskins wouldn't want Robert Griffin III lowering his head into anybody, and when you just account for Alfred Morris and his running back cohorts, Washington actually ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing attempts per game.
Still, Morris' style means the Redskins will have to be careful. He's a bruiser who doesn't shy away from contact and thus could be victimized by the new rule, rightfully or not.
Which NFC East team will be impacted most by the new helmet rule?
The Eagles are also expected to run a ton in Chip Kelly's new offense. Some of those runs will come from the quarterbacks, too, and LeSean McCoy is less of a battering-ram-type back, but expect the rule to factor in at some point due to sheer run volume in Philly.
Only the Arizona Cardinals ran the ball less often than the Cowboys last year, but a healthy DeMarco Murray could change that in 2013. Murray doesn't shy away from contact and he lowers and leads with his helmet a lot.
The Giants are in decent shape, though. They had a 58-42 pass-run ratio in 2012 and that isn't likely to change much with Ahmad Bradshaw gone in 2013. Presumed new starter David Wilson is a speed back who isn't exactly a poster boy for the rationale behind this rule.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock suggested today that this change could alter the state of football (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). If that's the case, the Giants could be benefactors of the change.