New catch rule could result in more collisions

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When changing its playing rules, the NFL always worries about unintended consequences. The new catch rule has a potential unintended consequence that would run counter to the league’s obsession with player health and safety.

Consider this example: Offensive player catches ball with two feet down. Ball comes out. Official blows the whistle and makes the signal of an incomplete pass. The ball bounces around on the ground. What happens next?

Here’s what happens next: Anyone in the vicinity of the ball dives for it.

If the ruling on the field is overturned, the incomplete pass most likely becomes a completed pass and a fumble. Which most likely means that, if there’s a clear recovery by the defense, the defense will end up with the ball.

The league office did not respond to request for comment made on Friday morning as to whether that scenario would result in a change of possession, but as a source with thorough and extensive knowledge of the rules told PFT, “[They] would have to give it to the defense in that situation.”

While this won’t happen with a high degree of frequency, it definitely will happen. And if indisputable visual evidence of a third step or a reach/extension of the ball before the ball comes out, senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron will have no choice but to overturn the ruling of an incomplete pass to a completed pass and a fumble. Followed by a change of possession, if it’s clear that the defense recovered it.

So, yes, players will be diving for the ball. That’s what they’ll be coached to do, and that’s what they’ll be expected to do. And good luck doing that without lowering the helmet to initiate contact in the process of, you know, diving head first.

While it’s unlikely (hopefully) that diving head first for a loose ball will constitute a violation of the new helmet rule (at this point, who knows?), the sudden, secret passage of such a significant safety rule brings into focus the safety aspects of all rule changes. And the new catch rule definitely has a safety risk that was overlooked, disregarded, or affirmatively assumed by the owners when voting 32-0 to change the catch rule.

44 responses to “New catch rule could result in more collisions

  1. This will rarely occur and even when it does occur will rarely result in injury.
    Non issue.

    Most concussions come when two players are running towards each other, not diving on the ground, unless you target the guys head like Gronk.

  2. They will put in a few hidden til last second rule changes like….defenders can only dislodge footballs by open hand slapping at it from a minimum of 12 inches away.

  3. indiapalealeblog says:
    April 1, 2018 at 10:52 am
    This will rarely occur and even when it does occur will rarely result in injury.
    Non issue.

    Most concussions come when two players are running towards each other, not diving on the ground, unless you target the guys head like Gronk.

    Which player was concussed? You’ve been waiting his whole career for that play haven’t you? Brady gets hit harder than that 10 times a game. Get over it.

    As far as Riveron having no choice, remember that fairy tale about the replay monitor going dark after a certain time? When did that happen? The caprice with which the catch rule was enforced last season was proof he has plenty of choices. This will be no different. Different clowns, same circus.

  4. Just change the rule so that the loose ball goes back to the offense. No more fumbles, less collisions. Hooray for the new NFL.

  5. indiapalealeblog says:
    April 1, 2018 at 10:52 am
    ….unless you target the guys head like Gronk.
    —————————-
    Context is for kings – the refs were ignoring the fouls against him (at least 14) all game long, including two fouls in that play alone, which caused him to finally boil over. If there’s anyone to blame it’s the refs (and the other team for deliberately playing dirty). It’s a testament to the uber-disciplined team he’s on that he hasn’t flipped lots before because he’s had to put up with teams over-contacting him all his career as they know they just can’t stop him once he gets free. But all the salty hater sees is him pushing those grabbers off. Enjoy your salt while others try to enjoy football.

  6. you just described a scenario that happens all the time and has the exact same outcome of players diving for the ball. it’s an incomplete pass under the old rule and new rule. you can’t make a football move or have the ability to make a football move if you lose possession of the ball. what genius thought up this scenario and also that this would be a new scenario the likes of which we have never seen. really, PFT?

  7. There are going to be a lot more turnovers as officials will be reluctant to blow whistles or call incomplete passes. It should be interesting, if nothing else.

  8. Players, aside from Cam Newton, always dive for a loose ball anyway. This is not a new issue.

  9. There was nothing wrong with the old catch rule. Bryant did NOT catch that ball. He rolled over it with his body, and then lost control of it. It couldn’t be clearer and it couldn’t make more sense. This “new” rule will simply result in a slew of new controversies. The root problem is that the game has gotten very fast, and the fan can see high definition replays from multiple angles. Twenty years ago we just moved on from a play and forgot it. Now we make it into an epic.

  10. Make fumbles like the Jump ball in basketball. every ball that hits the ground rotates with the possession arrow. This completely change the game of football thing is fun!

  11. Again an attorney questions reality. Player catches ball with two feet in bounds. Hello, it’s a catch. Drop a catch and it’s a fumble. End of story. Don’t make it harder than it is.

  12. Really? I guess in the 50+ years I’ve been playing, and watching football the NFL doesn’t want me anymore. From the tuck rule to when is a catch not a catch, they have done everything in creation to allow the refs the ability to control the outcome of the game.

    Bye NFL, it was fun while it lasted.

  13. There is a way to bring down the concussions. The NFL will never do it because it will slow down the offenses. But there is a way.

    Go back to pre 1978 rules and eliminate the 5 yard chuck rule.

    The game is so fast now with the speed on downfield plays. The 5 yard chuck rule would slow the game down and eliminate a percentage of high impact collisions. There was a reason there were so few Mel Gray (Cardinals) type of receivers back in the day. Guys like Golden Richards would have excelled in today’s game. But those type of receivers were not allowed a free release back in the day.

    The NFL is looking at eliminating kickoffs due to high speed high impact collisions. So why not do the same on offense and eliminate the 5 yard chuck?

  14. “When changing its playing rules, the NFL always worries about unintended consequences. “
    This may be the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  15. “Here’s what happens next: Anyone in the vicinity of the ball dives for it.”

    Well, on the better coached teams anyway. We often see players on the poorly coached teams stand around ignoring a loose ball because they think the play might be dead, while a player on the other team scoops it up and runs for the end zone just in case.

  16. .
    diving for the ball is leading with your head which will result in a flag and a fine to all diving players

  17. If the ruling on the field is overturned, the incomplete pass most likely becomes a completed pass and a fumble. Which most likely means that, if there’s a clear recovery by the defense, the defense will end up with the ball.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Even if we pretend that your example is some kind of new scenario your conclusion seems to be naive. If the whistle was blown nobody would be diving for the ball because the play would be over. If it did go to replay then the clear recovery will only matter if the desired team benefits, otherwise the explanation will involve the whistle blowing the play dead thus preventing a change of possession. I have seen clear recoveries ignored, declared after a scrum and fabricated out of thin air when the opposite team comes out with the ball. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to application of that particular rule other than whetever strikes the fancy of the review authority.

  18. The NFL will be out of business in 10 years. Any new league adopting ‘old’ NFL rules will thrive.

  19. rho1953 says:
    April 1, 2018 at 12:38 pm
    There was nothing wrong with the old catch rule. Bryant did NOT catch that ball. He rolled over it with his body, and then lost control of it. It couldn’t be clearer and it couldn’t make more sense. This “new” rule will simply result in a slew of new controversies. The root problem is that the game has gotten very fast, and the fan can see high definition replays from multiple angles. Twenty years ago we just moved on from a play and forgot it. Now we make it into an epic.

    Well 3 years short of 20 go we had a tuck rule and the crying hasn’t stopped. There have been controversial plays throughout the history of the NFL. They became epic around January of 2002 when a team know for their bad attitude and propensity for bending rules finally got one dumped on them and THEN it became Epic. Listen carefully to the West, you can still hear the gentle whines.

  20. Utter rubbish. Belly aching about nothing to fill space. Handwringing without cause. The impact of the new helmet rule is for gregarious examples of targeting/spearing. That is obvious if you want to apply thought to the issue. If you don’t, you can continue to Chicken Little all day.

    Then there is the ludicrous thought that the new catch rules will cause a wealth of fumbles to appear. If the ball comes out right after that football move or third step they will say he never had control.

  21. rule changes are good because belichick is the first guy to figure out how to take advantage and the competition takes a year or two to catch up, some never do.

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