The NFL Competition Committee approved seven new proposals for the 2016 season Tuesday and additional new rules Wednesday, including making all chop blocks illegal, permanently moving the line of scrimmage on extra points to the 15-yard line and moving touchbacks to the 25-yard line.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal and the Baltimore Ravens shared the new rules:
These proposals have been adopted just now by the clubs -- chop blocks are illegal, PATs permanently are at the 15 pic.twitter.com/LIEHOjif23— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 22, 2016
Here are the NFL rule changes: pic.twitter.com/Oey8v5lrM0— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) March 23, 2016
NFL has changed the IR - designated to return rule. Now, teams don't have to declare which 1 player could return when they put player in IR.— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 23, 2016
Stephen Jones tells me the automatic ejection proposal passed for a year. So did the 25-yard-line touchbacks on kickoffs.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 23, 2016
The majority of chop blocks were already illegal, but until Tuesday, two players aligned next to each other on the line of scrimmage were allowed to utilize the technique on run plays.
The rule has long been a controversial one, and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson was pleased to see the committee make all chop blocks illegal:
FINALLY! No Chop blocks! @NFL got this 1 right! Now see about getting to the bottom of that mysterious catch rule! lol— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@RealPeterson21) March 22, 2016
Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was also excited to see the rule change:
No more chop blocking y'all got no chance of blocking me screens now lol— Chris Harris (@ChrisHarrisJr) March 22, 2016
However, Broncos safety T.J. Ward isn't as happy about the move toward ejections, per Tom Blair of NFL.com:
I think [the ejection rule is] B.S. Because a lot of those penalties are derived from playing hard. And accidental. So to kick someone out of the game for playing hard, on something that's accidental, or especially ... it's going to be defensively biased, 'cause, you know, facemask, horse collars, helmet-to-helmet hits. I mean, what do you got on offense? Chop block now? Hands to the face? You know, it's ... Of course defensive players are going to be getting thrown out at a higher level than offensive players.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino addressed the fear that the rule change could target the retaliator more than the instigator, per Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk:
That’s a concern and we talked about it. We really work with our game officials to make sure they get the instigator and to be aware of those things. See the entire act, don’t just react to a comment or something if you haven’t seen how it evolved. That’s something we’re going to spend a lot of time [on] with our game officials to make sure that doesn’t happen.
There is an important distinction between chop blocks and cut blocks—which are still legal—as Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports noted:
Chop block is when a player is engaged by another player. Cut block (still legal) is a low block when not engaged. https://t.co/5tlEtg0mvQ— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 22, 2016
The elimination of the chop block could affect a number of offenses, as many teams had incorporated it as a staple of their running games. But many defensive players decried the chop block as being a dangerous play that put them at risk of injury.
Meanwhile, the other most notable change—the move of the line of scrimmage to the 15-yard line for try kicks—comes as little surprise. The longer extra-point attempts made the play more compelling in 2015, as kickers missed the most extra points since 1977, per NFL.com's Conor Orr.
The change added more strategy to the game, as teams were more inclined to attempt two-point conversions if their kickers were struggling or if the weather conditions made converting field goals difficult.
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