Patriots Talk: New Rule Change under consideration by the NFL
Yesterday it was stated by ESPN writer, Mike Reiss, that the NFL is considering a proposed rule change that will ban ‘leaping’ over the line of scrimmage. This style of play is one that Bill Belichick has utilized under crucial conditions during the special teams. A prime example is former New England Patriots [Linebacker] Jamie Collins‘ block against Indianapolis Colts [Kicker] Adam Vinateri‘s 33 yard field goal attempt in 2015. This past season, [Linebacker] Shea McClellin blocked Baltimore Ravens [Kicker] Justin Tucker in the same style of play and in Super Bowl LI, McClellin successfully did the same feat against Atlanta Falcons‘ [Kicker] Matt Bryant but it was called by the referees as a penalty. (Belichick stated that the ruling on the field was incorrect)
Both leaped over the line of scrimmage with near perfect timing to stop the kick and to great success. This crucial play will no longer be considered legal by next season, due to a proposal filed by the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFL commission under the concern for player safety. Last Thursday, NFL Head of Officiating Dean Blandino stated on a conference call:
The issue, we’ve looked at a lot of tape on the jumper, is how it’s being defended at this point; whether it’s the snapper or the guard raising up and attempting to make contact with the jump, we’ve seen several examples where players have been flipped over, land on their head, their neck, and the potential for a serious injury certainly increases when you have a player in a vulnerable position who is now going to be knocked off balance and really can’t control the way they land. So I think that’s probably the biggest thing, and we have seen that on tape as to why the proposal will be voted on,”
This proposal comes when the Patriots used this particular play in key situations this season. The concerns are valid with the idea that if the timing is off, players will likely injury themselves. However, many will look at this proposal and state its the NFL trying to inhibit the Patriots. While not provable, it is interesting that the ruling will come coincidentally after the Patriots won Super Bowl LI.
The proposal will not be implemented till the next owners meeting on March 26th-29th in Phoenix, Arizona. The new rule change proposal will likely be under discussion. All 32 NFL owners need to vote on any proposed rule change, with 24 votes required to pass it.