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NFL tweaks umpire positioning again

The NFL’s decision to move the umpires from the defensive side of the field to the offensive side of the field is looking more and more like a decision made in haste, without thinking through all the ramifications. And so today — two days before the start of the regular season — comes word that the league has tweaked the rule again.

Today the league office sent all 32 teams a memo explaining that the umpire will now be 12 yards from the line of scrimmage, not 15 yards. In theory, that means it shouldn’t take the umpire quite as long to spot the ball before each play, get back into position during the play, and then go spot the ball again as soon as the play ends.

The league also said the head linesman or line judge will signal when a snap can occur, and the quarterback can then call for the snap as soon as he sees that signal. And now umpires will move back to the old position on the defensive side of the field during the last two minutes of the first half, the last five minutes of the second half and any time a team is at or inside the defense’s 5-yard line.

All of these changes seem like marginal improvements, but none of them changes the problem that the Colts had in their third preseason game, when they were twice flagged for illegal snaps because they started a play before the umpire got behind the deepest offensive player. That rule remains in place.

And so teams running a hurry-up offense will have to hope the umpire hustles after spotting the ball. And fans who enjoy fast-paced football will have to hope the new positioning of the umpire doesn’t change the game as much as it looks like it could.

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71 Responses to “NFL tweaks umpire positioning again”
  1. FireJerryJones says: Sep 7, 2010 2:07 PM

    Bill Polian has spoken.

  2. Chiefs2010 says: Sep 7, 2010 2:10 PM

    Colts still are lacking in the running game..
    Teams have figured out how to stop Manning..

  3. neilp says: Sep 7, 2010 2:10 PM

    Good ole Bill Polian he gets his way again, I bet this was something Peyton Manning wanted sorted out before he signed his $120 million 8 year contract!

  4. _ROCKSTAR_ says: Sep 7, 2010 2:10 PM

    This gives a slight edge to the D who can get in a sub.

  5. Bazooka Joe says: Sep 7, 2010 2:10 PM

    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.

  6. jasncondit says: Sep 7, 2010 2:13 PM

    Here’s an easy fix. When the umpire sets the ball it can be snapped. That should move his lazy butt out of there in a hurry. Set and run for his life.

  7. heyguru says: Sep 7, 2010 2:16 PM

    Commissioner Goodell is looking about a half-step above idiot-status for allowing this to happen the way it’s gone down. I’m flagging him and the entire officiating crew for PASS INTERFERENCE, and tacking on an extra 10 yards for Failure To Not Be Morons.

  8. Kaz says: Sep 7, 2010 2:20 PM

    All will be well until Manning and the Colts throw another fit.

  9. dbartdog says: Sep 7, 2010 2:21 PM

    OK, Goodell is Moe…who is Larry and curly???

  10. sacdaddy says: Sep 7, 2010 2:21 PM

    so 9 ft is supposed to make a difference? laughable.

  11. Bill In DC says: Sep 7, 2010 2:22 PM

    So what happens in Monday night games on odd numbered days in even numbered years – do they line up on the defensive side of the ball the entire game?
    Say the ref gets confused and lines up on the defensive side of the ball instead of the offensive backfield, can the play be negated?
    This is becoming ridiculous — why is it not dangerous to have the ref in the defensive backfield except during the last two minutes of the first half, the last five minutes of the 2nd and when the offense is in the red zone, but dangerous other times?

  12. Bun McSticky says: Sep 7, 2010 2:23 PM

    Its a stupid rule anyway.

  13. CHIEF ZEE says: Sep 7, 2010 2:25 PM

    The poor colts won’t be able to run their unfair hurry-up offense as effectively…boo hoo

  14. jj jones says: Sep 7, 2010 2:27 PM

    Lord Polian strikes again

  15. HammarHead says: Sep 7, 2010 2:28 PM

    If the problem is “because they started a play before the umpire got behind the deepest offensive player.”, than just start the play under center with the RB up close, and as the umpire moves beyond the RB shift to a shotgun.

  16. Halasfan says: Sep 7, 2010 2:29 PM

    Maybe the should get rid of the 50+ years old/overweight Umpires. If the want to protect him make them wear pads and a kickers helmut. I think once the dude is behind the QB they should be able to hike the ball.
    If the D is good they should be abble to tee off on the signal.
    Cant the coaches start throwing the red flag for delay of game on an out of breathe Ref who isn’t moving his arse?

  17. Meat Tuperello says: Sep 7, 2010 2:30 PM

    Yeah they have figured out how to stop Manning.
    Think about the Colts have another 12+ wins, 4k, 28+td’s, Super Bowl Title.. That sure is hell is stopping him.

  18. FinFan68 says: Sep 7, 2010 2:32 PM

    The NFL says that it does not take much time for the ump to place the ball and get into position…fine. If that is the case, stop the clocks (40 sec & game clock) after the whistle of the end of a play and blow the whistle again after the ump is ready to signal that the ball can be snapped and for both clocks to resume. The offense is not penalized in any way.

  19. Phokus says: Sep 7, 2010 2:33 PM

    Bill Polian literally writes the rules.

  20. myspaceyourface says: Sep 7, 2010 2:35 PM

    jasncondit – you made me laugh.
    I had an image of the official in the water boy. Sweating his butt off and placing the ball.

  21. ADX says: Sep 7, 2010 2:37 PM

    Chiefs2010
    Yeah they sure have figured out how to stop Manning.
    That’s why Indy wins 12+ every year.
    I knew Chiefs fans were stupid but you might be their King.

  22. downwithdansnyder says: Sep 7, 2010 2:39 PM

    And it will all depend on how fast a middle age man can back peddle. He can hurry, or not. Better start those DB drills.

  23. Hauschild says: Sep 7, 2010 2:41 PM

    It’s a damned foolish rule to begin with.
    What am I missing here? Where is the huge payoff for the league here and for teams?
    Was it instituted merely for safety of umpires? If it was, has any umpire ever died as a result of being struck by a ball or a player? If not, then if current umps don’t like taking a hit now and then, find some that do. The unemployment rate is ridiculously high, which means the talent pool is full of more qualified candidates. Will my fellow man not be completely satisfied until every one of my fellow men are candy asses???
    Good Lord – somebody prove to me that the population is NOT getting DUMBER with each passing year. Decisions like this one certainly don’t bode well for an intelligent future.

  24. myspaceyourface says: Sep 7, 2010 2:42 PM

    It has been proven that Manning cracks under pressure. Personally, I like the guy. I think he’s great.
    But Joey Porter and Company broke the golden veil. The showed the league how to beat this guy.

  25. snowangel says: Sep 7, 2010 2:42 PM

    How ’bout this, Polian?
    Why don’t you just have your boy “Wahj” get WID of the UMPIE-WA altogether? Then you can have the HEAD WINESMAN make all of the hoe-ding calls at the wine of scwimmage and Peyton can pull his wame-ass white-boy Kenny Chesney shuffle up to the wine ’til his wittle ol’ hawts content– BUT WAIT– that would mean the HEAD WINESMAN might get too busy, and won’t be able to call the ticky-tack “illegal use of hands” penalties against the mean ol’ defensive backs anymowe.
    Hmmm… what a conundwum.

  26. Floriohatescincy says: Sep 7, 2010 2:44 PM

    Wow Bazooka, starting to look like Shinsnake, leave your soapbox at home. Although I AM on the verge of asking you what the HELL you’re talking about. No, nevermind, I don’t want to know.

  27. LunarPie says: Sep 7, 2010 2:48 PM

    Who made this Rule Change, Obama?!?!

  28. robert ethen says: Sep 7, 2010 2:52 PM

    Umpires in N.O. will also be asked to change position to remove their heads from the sand. Or their rectums, as the case may be.

  29. AngeloMixLA says: Sep 7, 2010 2:52 PM

    they only change the rules when it matters to their superstars who make them all the money , players are just $$ (dollar) signs , and they dont want their money unhappy

  30. Dbellina says: Sep 7, 2010 2:53 PM

    If more of these guys were built like Ed Hochuli, we wouldn’t need these silly rules that “protect” the refs.

  31. j-wil says: Sep 7, 2010 2:55 PM

    Or…………..the NFL hires refs that don’t play bingo at the local VFW while drinking 10 cent drafts every Tuesday night.

  32. Popeye says: Sep 7, 2010 2:58 PM

    it still sux
    the umps cant stop the flow..plain and simple

  33. Meat Tuperello says: Sep 7, 2010 3:02 PM

    Hammerhead, that wouldn’t solve the problem on snapping the ball. That is what is at issue. Shifting/motion, etc is allowed. it’s the snap with the umpire out of position which is in question. he should be back pedaling into position.
    They should just leave it alone.

  34. spartyfi says: Sep 7, 2010 3:02 PM

    Bazooka Joe says:
    September 7, 2010 2:10 PM
    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.
    ———————————————————————
    Ahhh, another racist brotha….love it! It seems to me that black folk tend to worry more about race than white folk…hmmmm
    Yes, your skin is darker but you are the person you allow yourself to become…like it’s the white mans fault that so many young black men make poor choices in their lives…and why did you bring race in to this and why did I bite?

  35. Skinbin says: Sep 7, 2010 3:05 PM

    Whats is matter with Goodell, Can’t he Get Jerry Jones OK

  36. Florioisanidiot1 says: Sep 7, 2010 3:05 PM

    still gonna hurt the colts, just not as much. Should cut 1-2 seconds off the previous rule, but will still cost the colts 4-5.

  37. contract says: Sep 7, 2010 3:06 PM

    Peyton is still not happy. Change it again!

  38. Ravens Macg says: Sep 7, 2010 3:07 PM

    @dbartdog: Bazooka Joe will be both Larry & Curly after the racist comment that jerk made!!!

  39. Tombradysbaby says: Sep 7, 2010 3:09 PM

    # Bazooka Joe says: September 7, 2010 2:10 PM
    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.
    —————————————————–
    WOW you’re a piece of trash. Go eat some watermelon and fried chicken while you enjoy your free welfare check and gov’t cheese.

  40. Hail 2 Dan Snyder says: Sep 7, 2010 3:11 PM

    This might be a hoax

  41. Straydogg_0 says: Sep 7, 2010 3:12 PM

    Have the ref’s wear light shoulder pads and a cap style helmet and go back to linning up behind the D rather than behind the O! At least when they get smacked, they’ll have a little protection.
    This rule does nothing but alert the D when the ball is to be snapped and gives the D that much more of the advantage in alertness and possible false starts…

  42. HarrisonHits says: Sep 7, 2010 3:12 PM

    “The league also said the head linesman or line judge will signal when a snap can occur, and the quarterback can then call for the snap as soon as he sees that signal. ”
    So now that’s at the discretion of the refs instead of how fast the offense can get to the LOS. What a joke and simply terrible way to deal with this.

  43. jediwrstlr says: Sep 7, 2010 3:14 PM

    HOW IS THIS A CHANGE TO BENIFIT THE COLTS???? It states in the article, that it DOES NOT change the problem that the Colts had in their third preseason game. And before you come down hard on the colts, what about Brady? The “no touching the qb below the waist”, and the “tuck rule”. I said it before, and it still holds true, this rule will not be changed until it impacts the Patriots.

  44. FoF says: Sep 7, 2010 3:14 PM

    Colts whine again, the league listens again. I am so glad the Colts and Manning got embarrased in the SB.

  45. thehouserules says: Sep 7, 2010 3:17 PM

    Does the tailback have a maximum distance from the line of scrimmage when he lines up? What if the ball is on the opposing 6 yard line and a team decides to be cute and line up their RB 95 yards behind the line of scrimmage? Would the umpire be obligated to go stand in the endzone on the other side of the field?
    Because that would be hilarious.

  46. DMurph says: Sep 7, 2010 3:19 PM

    Dumb, the rule was fine. It’s silly to have them on the defensive side where they can be used to set picks. Are we really so crazy for offense that we want defensive players running around unintended obstacle courses?

  47. Sloan says: Sep 7, 2010 3:26 PM

    YawnFlorio says:
    September 7, 2010 2:30 PM
    Bazooka Joe says:
    September 7, 2010 2:10 PM
    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.
    ______
    STILL waiting for a rule called the “Peyton Manning Rule” (ala the “Tom Brady rule”). IF ANY QB is a crybaby, it’s Tammy Bieber.
    YawnFlorio says:
    September 7, 2010 2:16 PM
    The Black Cat says:
    September 7, 2010 1:47 PM
    If the Steelers are 6-0 and Dixon has a 153.0 QB rating or better, Big Ben will be benched.
    ___
    Try getting a CLUE, moron. Ben’s suspension was reduced to FOUR games (and no, he won’t screw that up). Typical Patsie moron fan, no doubt.
    ———–
    Even on posts that have nothing to do with the Patriots you find a way to involve them or there fans.
    Obsess much??
    What a Jackass, yeah you’re not jealous of the Patriots.

  48. paytonr says: Sep 7, 2010 3:31 PM

    Look, this rule is put in place by the NFL to make more money for advertising by slowing down the game, period!

  49. thirdandgoal says: Sep 7, 2010 3:38 PM

    Will a QB have to wait for the ump to get in position even on a “spike”? THAT could be HUGE with the clock running.

  50. Bleed Green says: Sep 7, 2010 3:39 PM

    I mean, everybody can go and blame this on Manning if they want, but you’re idiots. The rule was stupid, he pointed that out through example (twice), and it was changed.
    If he was the only one who thought it would ruin play (especially no-huddle and hurry-up offenses) do you really think they’d change it? Because then you’re even bigger idiots. They’re just trying to find a balance between safety for umpires and not hindering gameplay.
    After all, the officials weren’t the ones requesting the change in the first place. It’s a rule made by the NFL’s front office, and they’re the ones who changed it when they realized they might have just ruined the game.

  51. Anarcho Purplism says: Sep 7, 2010 3:43 PM

    Classic “compromise.” Completely ignore core issues o both sides. Core issue: “safety” by putting Ump on Offensive side & Core issue: “quality of game” by keeping ump on defensive side.
    Does anyone really WANT football to be slower between plays?
    Expect this one to be tweaked some more. The real lesson here is that they need to test this stuff before they release it.
    @ Bazooka Joe
    The race-card, huh? Classy.

  52. Kevin says: Sep 7, 2010 3:44 PM

    Wasn’t it this site’s “gomers” calling for this change last year? I recall them acting like it was foolish to have the Umpires on the defensive side of the ball. Now they seem to act like its a bad idea.

  53. Play4Blood says: Sep 7, 2010 3:54 PM

    # Bazooka Joe says: September 7, 2010 2:10 PM
    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.
    ————————————————
    Wait…what?

  54. patsfan21 says: Sep 7, 2010 3:54 PM

    i like how their are Chief’s fans ripping the colts for this one, i guess when you root for a team who has a decent enough offense to run a no huddle two minute drill you wouldnt like this rule…

  55. The Black Cat says: Sep 7, 2010 3:59 PM

    In related news, Haynesworth will now have to do 45 yard shuttles, not 50 yard shuttles.

  56. Hailskinzz says: Sep 7, 2010 4:00 PM

    These rules in the NFL these days is a joke man, you can’t touch the qb at all you can’t hit offensive players “hard” it has become a joke just like the raiders org

  57. jwill007 says: Sep 7, 2010 4:04 PM

    I heard George Bush made the rule change

  58. CliveRush says: Sep 7, 2010 4:05 PM

    Goodell reminds me of the Democrat Congress in power now. Let us see what we can screw up today. Or, if one person complains, change everything to please the minority over the majority. It must be a Manhattan thing.

  59. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Sep 7, 2010 4:08 PM

    Sorry Sloan, but I am not buying what you are selling, YawnFlorio is constantly bashing the Pats, and Tammie Bieber sounds like an insult to Tom Brady, just saying

  60. Hank_SJ says: Sep 7, 2010 4:12 PM

    Can the NFL ‘honchos’ screw this up any more? Oh yeah, why not switch the umpire’s position on 3rd down when the losing team has the ball inside the opponent’s 22 yard line, but only on Sunday afternoon games after the 4th week of the year. Unless, that is, the opposing team is ahead by more than 11 points then the umpire remains behind the offense. And only if the home team is wearing white jerseys in an outdoor stadium.
    Cheese-and-crackers this league can complicate the simplest of things.

  61. Kaz says: Sep 7, 2010 4:14 PM

    Tombradysbaby says:
    September 7, 2010 3:09 PM
    # Bazooka Joe says: September 7, 2010 2:10 PM
    Peyton cries and the NFL runs to make the big baby feel much bwetter. Awww.
    Just like white folk when they cry about a law not being fair, then the law has to be changed.
    ——————– ——————– ————-
    WOW you’re a piece of trash. Go eat some watermelon and fried chicken while you enjoy your free welfare check and gov’t cheese.
    ______
    All it took was a little nudge and the ugly comes out of people. You would have been better off ignoring him than proving his point.

  62. jediwrstlr says: Sep 7, 2010 4:15 PM

    I just had an lightning strike in my head. let the refs spor the ball, before showing anything that remotley looks lik a formation, or stay in the huddle, till the ball is placed, then break the huddle and do a quick snap.

  63. nicefellow31 says: Sep 7, 2010 4:20 PM

    Great. Make a change to the mechanics and the first time the officials get to test it is in the opening games.

  64. Old School says: Sep 7, 2010 4:40 PM

    Why don’t they just have a rule that the ball must be snapped when the ref blows his whistle. This stupidity doesn’t just penalize the Colts. Other teams line up ready to snap the ball quickly (or not) at their discretion.
    When you fix what ain’t broke, you activate the law of unintended consequences. It’s time for Roger to admit they screwed the pooch and are going back to the way it worked for 50 years.
    In the best interests of football, the competition committee needs to go.

  65. The Hogster says: Sep 7, 2010 4:42 PM

    Just wait until a team loses a game because some old ref took too long to shuffle his fat a$$ to his spot.

  66. JP says: Sep 7, 2010 4:51 PM

    If a team snaps the ball before the ref has given the signal, then either the center or the QB is an idiot.
    It’s pretty simple:
    1. Wait for ref to give signal.
    2. Snap the ball.
    It’s not rocket science. If Peyton Manning is too dumb to wait for the signal before calling for the snap, the problem is with Manning, not the rule.

  67. JSpicoli says: Sep 7, 2010 5:33 PM

    What kind of dominant uber-sport needs to change it’s rules not just every year, but sometimes during the season?
    I still love football, but this is why Baseball remains the purest sport. Tides rise and fall, but Baseball is the perfectly designed game. Football still hasn’t decided what it wants to be when it grows up.

  68. darth_vincent says: Sep 7, 2010 6:24 PM

    to answer someone’s question from above…. in all the games they tracked from the 90’s forward the Ref in the D-Backfield got whacked some 100 times resulting in….. 3 concussions, 1 knee surgery, and I forget about the other one (I think his arm ended up in a sling).
    Yeah… that’s it. But anything that pisses off P.Manning is a big plus for me.

  69. ADX says: Sep 7, 2010 8:41 PM

    # myspaceyourface says: September 7, 2010 2:42 PM
    It has been proven that Manning cracks under pressure. Personally, I like the guy. I think he’s great.
    But Joey Porter and Company broke the golden veil. The showed the league how to beat this guy.
    They sure did… they found the secret to disrupting the offense was to sack the QB!!!!!!!!
    Now the league has taken that recipe and used it against the Colts EVERY game causing them to only win 90% of their games played since that day.
    The idiot police need to lock some people up starting with you.

  70. stanjam says: Sep 7, 2010 11:37 PM

    Once again, Manning complains, and Polian makes sure the competition committee takes action to help out Manning and the Colts. It must really help your team when you can get the rules changed to help your “best” players.
    So looking forward to another year of the Colts falling behind, only to have Manning send a receiver deep, throw a ball near the receiver, but not catchable, and have that receiver intentionally make contact with the defender to get the PI call. Makes me sick, but the Colts win so many tough games this way, by abusing the rule they had emphasized to help keep the number of Manning’s interceptions down after Ty Law made a fool out of him…repeatedly.

  71. Mike Daly says: Sep 8, 2010 11:17 AM

    If this is meant to address Polian’s complaints, they need to stop. Stop feeding Polian and Manning and make them have to adapt to a slightly slower game. Make them become the old-school Titans, Patriots, and Panthers – hard-hitting clubs whose receivers could hit. Stop letting the Colts be this dink-and-dunk-on-steroids offense.

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