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2017 NFL Rule Changes

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Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals:

- By Philadelphia: Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.

This doesn't surprise me at all.  That started happening more and more last year and it just felt like it was dangerous.  I don't know how dangerous it actually was, but it looked dangerous so it doesn't surprise me that the NFL banned it. I don't think it'll have a huge impact on the game.

- By Competition Committee: Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.

Also doesn't surprise me.

- By Competition Committee: Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.

I'm guessing that when they moved the touchback to the 25 for KO and punts they didn't do it for this and this is just an attempt to standardize it all... but I don't know why it's for one year only.

-  By Competition Committee: Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.

This I hate.  I hate the defenseless player rule because it seemed so much of a snap judgement call.  So many times when a defender was flagged for hitting a defenseless player it seemed like the exact same hits would occur before or after that in the game and no flag would get thrown.  I'm not against a rule to protect a player who can't protect himself, but there needs to be better definition of what that player is and more consistant enforcement.

But even beyond that, how is a player running a pass route considered defenseless now and what does that mean?  If a defender makes contact with a receiver while going for a INT, is that considered hitting a defenseless player?  If a defense is standing in one spot and the receiver slams into him, is that considered hitting a defenseless player?  After all the receiver was just running his pass route.  

Obviously this just an abbreviation of the rule, but I hope there is a LOT more detail with this rule.

- By Competition Committee: Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.

No issue here.

- By Competition Committee: Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.


- By Competition Committee: Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.

Sounds like a good idea, though I'm sure exactly what situation they are trying to prohibit.

- By Competition Committee: Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Um... I'm gonna need a lot more info here... What actions are they talking about?

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I found this site here: http://www.dawgsbynature.com/2017/3/28/15100624/list-of-nfl-rule-changes-for-the-2017-season which provides an example of where the defenseless player rule would make sense:

This rule says a receiver is now a defenseless player if they are running their pattern, even if a pass is not coming their way. I can think of this having relevance if a quarterback is outside the pocket and a receiver isn’t aware of it yet --

while still running his route, the defender can’t just level him in the head.

Okay, that I can agree with... there's no good reason to lay out a guy who perhaps on the other side of the field not away the QB is scrambling so he's not prepared at all for a possible hit.  That would be a good application of the rule.

However, I still think there is much more chance that this rule will be applied in situations where it doesn't make sense than in situations like this where it does.  I'm still searching for the actual language of the rule, but so far it looks way to vague.

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