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NFL owners officially approve new rule changes for 2016

NFL owners officially approved nine rule changes on Wednesday at the Owners’ Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., including a new rule that will result in a automatic ejection for any player committing two unsportsmanlike conduct personal fouls in the same game. The rule will take place on a one-year trial basis beginning next season.

The new rule was controversial to say the least as many players voiced their opinion, including Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman who made a comment about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having never played the game of football. Last season only four players were ejected from a game, could we see that number increase in 2016 with this new rule change?

While there might be a slight bump in ejections, the rule only applies to unsportsmanlike penalties and not more common personal foul penalties like facemask and roughing the passer fouls. Under the new rule only the following will be considered unsportsmanlike:

  1. Throwing a punch, or forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made.
  2. Using abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures to opponents, teammates, officials, or representatives of the League.
  3. Using baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.

Another rule change that might have a considerable impact on games next season is touchbacks off kickoffs will now result in the ball being placed at the 25-yard line instead of the 20-yard line. With this rule change the NFL is trying to limit the number of kick returns, a part of the game that results in many injuries. However, this rule might have an adverse affect on games. While 5 extra yards might not sound like a lot, in a game of inches every yard is crucial and NFL coaches know this. I’m sure coaches are already practicing with kickers on how to get the ball within the 5-yard line to avoid giving up those extra yards. This rule change will also be in place on a one-year trial basis.

The NFL also decided to ban all chop blocks going forward, a play that has resulted in many lower body injuries throughout the years. The chop block, commonly mistaken with a cut block, is when a two offensive players are in contact with a defensive player and one of the offensive players goes low to chop down the defensive player. The maneuver was recently legal within the area between the two offensive tackles at the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile the cut block where a single offensive player goes low on a defensive player is still legal. This change could have a considerable impact on the running game, especially zone-blocking schemes that have utilized chop blocks to open up holes for their running backs.

Here’s a full-list of the rule changes for 2016 below:

  1. By Competition Committee; Permanently moves the line of scrimmage for Try kicks to the defensive team’s 15-yard line, and allows the defense to return any missed Try.
  2. By Competition Committee; Permits the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches’ booth.
  3. By Competition Committee; Makes all chop blocks illegal.
  4. By Competition Committee; Disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. Amended to one-year only.
  5. By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line. Amended to one-year only.
  6. By Competition Committee; Makes it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so
  7. By Competition Committee; Eliminates the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.
  8. By Competition Committee; Eliminates multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.
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