The NFL is an ever-evolving entity, and each year the owners meet and vote on key items to try and improve the league. Last March, the owners passed several rules that go into effect this season, including several enhancements to try and improve player safety.
Here are a few changes that caught my eye:
Take note of the new rule allowing a trainer to call a timeout for a player who may be concussed. When this happens, the team will NOT be charged with a timeout. This seems like a great idea to ensure that teams are not penalized for trying to care for the well-being of the players. It's obviously open to abuse, but I'm sure officials will be watching for that.
All players on offense are now subject to being penalized for an illegal "peel-back" block. You may recall that this is what caused the catastrophic knee injury to Brian Cushing during the 2012 season when he was hit from behind by Matt Slauson.
There is a new extra-point rule in effect that might make more teams consider going for two points after a touchdown if they are concerned that their kicker may miss from the new distance that's equivalent to a 32-yard field goal. That might certainly be the case during inclement weather conditions.
J.J. Watt has a new category to try and notch into his career stat sheet, as the defense can now return two-point tries or blocked PAT kicks for two points. This mirrors the NCAA rules, as well as many high school scoring rules.
NFL officials will now provide a strong focus on the inflation of game balls. We can thank the Ravens, Colts and Patriots for bringing us that fine mess.
Did you know that linebackers can now wear jerseys numbered 40-49? Did you know both teams can wear their colored jerseys during Thursday Night Football games?
Take a look at the full list below. From Wikipedia:
The following rule changes were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owner's meeting on Wednesday, March 25, 2015:
- Allow a certified medical trainer to call a medical time-out when a player appears disoriented and/or concussed. This time-out is not to be charged to the team whose player is injured, even inside the two-minute warning. The only substitution allowed is for the injured player and for a single player from the opposing team to match up.
- Making the practice of a receiver declared ineligible lining up in the slot formation illegal; ineligible receivers must line up inside the tackle box. This was in response to the New England Patriots using this tactic in the 2014-15 NFL playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
- Extended the restriction for peel-back blocks to include all of the offensive team instead of just those inside of the tackle box.
- Expanded the definition of a "defenseless receiver" to include intended receivers in the air during and after an interception.
- Making offensive backs who chop a defender engaged above the waist by another offensive player subject to a chop-block penalty (15 yards).
- Pushing teammates at the scrimmage line during punts/field goals is illegal.
- Expanded instant replay to include whether time should be put back on the game clock at the end of any period.
- Linebackers can now be numbered 40-49.
The following changes to the extra point rules were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owner's meeting on Tuesday, May 19, 2015:
- The line of scrimmage for extra point tries will move to the 15-yard line from the two-yard line. Two-point conversions will still be spotted at the two-yard line.
- Defenses will be allowed to return turnovers on two-point tries or blocked PAT kicks to the opposing end zone for two points, mirroring the NCAA rule adopted in the 1988 season.
The following changes to game ball protocol were passed for the 2015 NFL season on Monday, July 27, 2015.
- There will be increased testing, oversight and security surrounding the balls. At random games, officials will measure the PSI of 24 footballs at halftime. Two officials, instead of only the referee, will measure and record the inflation of footballs before the game. These changes were made in response to the "deflategate" scandal.
An additional rule was also passed during the offseason allowing both teams to wear their colored jerseys for Thursday Night Football contests.
Which of these do you find the most interesting? Do you think these will improve the game overall? Share your thoughts with fellow fans in the comments below.