NFL needs to show what is and is not a penalty under new helmet rule

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Before passing the new catch rule, the NFL provided specific examples of plays (such as the infamous Dez Bryant and Jesse James overturned catches) that would be officiated differently under the new rule. But in passing the new rule on lowering the helmet, the NFL has provided no such examples.

PFT reached out to the NFL to see if we could get a look at some examples of plays that were legal before, but are now illegal under the new rule saying that “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.” We were told that the league could not provide any video to give specific examples.

The league needs to produce such a video. Until we see specific examples, we have no idea what this rule really means. Under the broadest possible interpretation, “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet” happens multiple times on every play. What else is a lineman doing when he comes out of a three-point stance?

The NFL may instruct the officials only to call the most flagrant, violent hits. If that’s the case, this rule may be no more a game-changer than the “crown of the helmet” rule of 2013, which was treated as a big deal at the time but turned out to be a big nothing.

But until the NFL shows us all what is and is not a penalty under this new rule, we simply don’t know. Let’s hope players, coaches and officials all know what the rule really means before the season starts.

45 responses to “NFL needs to show what is and is not a penalty under new helmet rule

  1. If Vontaze Burfict does it… it’s a penalty

    If a pittsburgh steelers assistant coach does it… it’s a penalty…

    … on a Bengals player.

  2. I’d hate to see what kind of connections there are between the NFL Competition Committee and big gambling. Does Paul Manafort work for the league office? This new rule is a deliberate attempt to have someone other than the players control the outcome of the game. I don’t bet on football games, so it doesn’t make any difference to me. The more we complain about Roger Goodell and how he hands down punishment, the easier the league can get away with fixing games because they can just hide behind the “stupid” label. These people aren’t stupid.

  3. Ya was about to bring up that there was a rule exception while inside the tackle box I thought where linemen and RBs were exempt if I remember correctly wasn’t there? I’ve never heard much ever referred to it though.

  4. What I do observe is that there were helmet to helmet hits on players but no penalty was called. Therefore a new rule is definitely needed. The new rule is based on intent so it is difficult to find examples that show intent versus incidental contact. The new rule therefore should open the door for review. A coach should be able to argue that the player did not intend to use his helmet to tackle but that the contact is incidental.

    Since such penalties usually carry a 15 yard, potentially game changing penalty, coaches should be allowed to challenge them during the game. Further, pass interference penalties should also be open to review and challenges.

  5. Hopefully, we will find out on a Brady incompletion on 4th and 10 in the final 3 minutes of a close game the patriots eventually pull out to win!!!!

  6. How about looking at tape of Devante Adams….if it looks like that. Your gone. If it doesn’t look like that, well then leave it

  7. 1) Tweak the ‘catch’ rule so the refs can’t continue to sway games to the Patriots.
    2) Create a new rule, even more ambiguous than the catch rule, to give the refs a whole NEW way to affect outcomes.
    Got it.

  8. I feel like the league leaked this supposed rule change to give the appearance that they are concerned with, and doing something about, player safety. They can also use the feedback to see how it will go over with the players and fans, and use all the questions raised to help them to fine tune the wording. The rule as currently worded, is ridiculous.

  9. This rule is crazy. They should have just named it the hard-hit rule, bc every big hit is going to result in a flag.. legal or illegal! The refs wont know any difference.

  10. The downside is more penalties as refs and players learn to play inside the new rule. The upside is better tackling in the long run.

  11. The good news is it will be pretty simple to show. They are going to send the the NFL highlight clips of Pats players lowering their heads into contact to show what is not a penalty – and then clips of the rest of the NFL doing the same thing to demonstrate what is a penalty.

  12. NFL needs to show what is and is not a penalty under new helmet rule

    –Exactly. There is some kind of helmet to helmet contact on almost every play. They definitely need to define what they consider a penalty besides the blatant use of the helmet as in spearing, etc.

  13. This rule is a response to Shazier’s injury. Guy led with his helmet on every hit. It is very unfortunate what happened to him, but it was bound to happen. I hope he recovers well, and I hope this new rule will help avoid similar devastating injuries.

  14. You’re looking at this new rule from the wrong perspective…it’s not about how it will affect the game per se…

    You have to think Vegas, Gambling, Point spreads…this rule gives Vegas the ability to instruct referees when and when not to call the foul to adjust the point spreads where they want it…#money #facts

  15. Its hard to fix an NFL game, thats why you see more players being “fixed” or “taking the money”, NBA is the easiest sport to fix, which is why the Mafia infiltrated it so much.

    charliecharger says:
    March 29, 2018 at 7:43 am
    I’d hate to see what kind of connections there are between the NFL Competition Committee and big gambling. Does Paul Manafort work for the league office? This new rule is a deliberate attempt to have someone other than the players control the outcome of the game. I don’t bet on football games, so it doesn’t make any difference to me. The more we complain about Roger Goodell and how he hands down punishment, the easier the league can get away with fixing games because they can just hide behind the “stupid” label. These people aren’t stupid.

  16. In other news…Ed Hochuli just announced his un-retirement…not wanting to miss an opportunity to over explain penalties thrown by him and his crew.

  17. The NFL has no idea themselves what will and won’t be a penalty. This rule will be a disaster–never clear and enforced so sporadically it’ll fuel conspiracy theories about game fixing. Be ready for somebody to put his helmet on the ball causing a key fumble only to have it wiped away by penalty.

  18. The NFL should show examples of what this rule is, but can’t because they haven’t figured it out yet.

    Every game is now going to be up to the refs as to what is a catch, and what is lowering the helmet.

    When Sendejo uses his shoulder he is fined and suspended. When Suh or another lineman dive at your knees it’s perfectly fine.

    The NFL is disaster. What’s becoming entertaining is watching the refs screw something up rather than the game itself.

  19. Hope that includes showing the refs too. They have to call it and get it right. Also if they really have made this clear, how about taking a few minutes of fluff out of the pregame shows and show the fans too. Maybe several weeks until people have seen it. Several years after the last rule change around it, and no one knows for sure what a catch is. This is your litmus test. If you can’t teach it, you don’t know it. Then don’t do it.

  20. This rule adds quite a bit of grey area to infractions, allowing the refs to continue to determine outcomes of games.

    This is coming from someone who has watched diligently for a 30 year lifetime, and digs into football news almost every day. If this rule creates too much grey area in enforcement, then I am out. I am preparing myself mentally for giving up patronizing of the game that occupies so much of my time each year.

  21. We were told that the league could not provide any video to give specific examples.

    ————————————————

    Of course not. That means they’d have to give us a “standard” to rule by and that’s not a good idea because we all know there’s going to be controversial the NFL’s decisions does not follow any type of standard at all.

  22. “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet” happens multiple times on every play. What else is a lineman doing when he comes out of a three-point stance?
    ________

    I’ve never played on the line, but I guess I assumed they were looking at each other when the ball is snapped so they know who to hit.

  23. The picture is not a penalty unless the running back initiated contact. The defender is attempting proper tackling technique. The helmets make incidental contact but not at the crown of the helmet.

  24. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    March 29, 2018 at 9:48 am
    “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet” happens multiple times on every play. What else is a lineman doing when he comes out of a three-point stance?
    ________

    I’ve never played on the line, but I guess I assumed they were looking at each other when the ball is snapped so they know who to hit.

    ———

    Actually no… they’re not always looking at who they are going to hit…. it gives away who you’re going to hit. Yes, sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.

  25. I put in a game tape from last season.
    I watched ten running plays.
    On four of the ten, the running back lowered his helmet as he braced for contact.
    It seemed to me that he did so not to absorb a hit with his helmet, but as part of an attempt to lean forward to make sure that he fell forward and gained extra yardage.

    This rule will be a game-changer.

  26. “I’ve never played on the line, but I guess I assumed they were looking at each other when the ball is snapped so they know who to hit.”
    _____________

    Watch along the line in a goal line situation and tell me what you see: Everybody trying to go as low as quickly as possible to gain the advantage of getting under the opposing player. Only guys looking up are if they happen to be pulling or if they’re linebackers coming in to fill holes. And then the RB burrows in, head down, as well.

  27. “NFL needs to show what is and is not a penalty under new helmet rule”

    Oh they will, just not beforehand.

  28. Argh!Matey! says:
    March 29, 2018 at 10:35 am
    Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    March 29, 2018 at 9:48 am
    “Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet” happens multiple times on every play. What else is a lineman doing when he comes out of a three-point stance?
    ________

    I’ve never played on the line, but I guess I assumed they were looking at each other when the ball is snapped so they know who to hit.

    ———

    Actually no… they’re not always looking at who they are going to hit…. it gives away who you’re going to hit. Yes, sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
    ____________

    That’s before the ball is snapped. When the ball is snapped, you need to hit the guy you’re going to hit and I don’t think the first move is to lower your head so you can’t see what you’re hitting.

  29. so basically every time a RB runs through a hole in the o-line and collides with a defender it will be a penalty? greeeeeat. the nfl really does want it to be a pass only league

  30. .
    So is a finger nail hitting brady’s helmet a penalty and fine for the defender or brady now?
    I am so confused.

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