It’s time for the chop block to go away, completely

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The NFL prides itself on developing changes to the game that trickle down to the lower levels of the sport. There’s a looming adjustment to pro football that, if it occurs, will be the result of change trickling up.

The league is indeed considering getting rid of the chop block, but that’s not a new development. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Competition Committee discusses getting rid of the chop block every year. While the Committee keeps coming closer to dumping it entirely, it hasn’t happened yet. This year, there’s a chance it will — primarily because the voices opposed to it are getting louder.

A chop block, as defined by Rule 12, Section 2, Article 3 of the NFL official rule book, occurs when one offensive player blocks a player in the thigh or lower when another offensive player has engaged the defender above the waist.

Currently, chop blocks are permitted in two situations, on running plays only. First, two offensive players who were lined up next to each other on the line of scrimmage at the snap may chop a defensive player on a running play. Second, two offensive players who were lined up more than one position away from each other on the line of scrimmage at the snap may chop a defensive player if the flow of the player is toward the block. All other chop blocks are illegal.

The technique already has been banned from all lower levels of the sport, and for good reason. Unlike a standard cut block, which the defender sees coming and has a chance to avoid, the chop block occurs when the defender already is engaged high with another blocker.

“It’s a career-ending technique that needs to be removed from the game,” one source told PFT.

Since its inception, football has allowed blocks below the waist, because that’s the only way a small guy can take a bigger player down. For decades, the NFL has been scaling back the situations in which blocks can be delivered below the waist.

The attempt to reduce concussions by extending protections for offensive players in defenseless positions has prompted plenty of defensive players to argue that they should be protected against torn ACLs, which can have a much greater impact on a player’s ability to play than a concussion does. Getting rid of the chop block, which currently is permitted only in certain narrow situations, would be the next step in an evolutionary process that could, eventually, lead to a strike zone for all players between the knees and the neck.

While no one knows quite where the process ends, it needs to continue with the chop block being wiped from the books.

44 responses to “It’s time for the chop block to go away, completely

  1. Couldn’t agree more. If one blocker already has a guy engaged, why is it necessary to use a chop block? If two people can’t move a guy without employing that method, your team’s blocking sucks.

  2. It is a good idea to get rid of the chop block,
    It will cut down on the knee and ankle injuries. The game has become a battle of attrition, where the team with the fewest injuries often wins . The chop block should go the way of the crack back block, which people grumbled about when it was made illegal, but is now seldom mentioned.

  3. Forcing teams to win one on one battles with actual ability and technique instead of just diving at the knees of players you can’t block or cover…

    The wussification of America continues.

  4. redrew says:
    Mar 2, 2016 11:30 AM
    Take away illegal cap maneuvers and the chop block and Denver would have zero Lombardi trophies.
    How did circumventing the cap 16 years ago have to do with winning super bowl 50?

    Did you NOT see an inept offense that day? It was clearly the defense that won that game.

    please explain how super bowl 50 fits into your assertion?

  5. Football is a violent sport. Players know the risks while getting paid millions. Why must we continue to water it down? Soon enough it’ll be touch football and then “violent shoving” will be made illegal. Stop changing the game. Keep it crazy, that’s why we love it.

  6. Problem with fans will be this. 99% do not know the difference between a chop block and a cut block by a single lineman. I just shake my head when board are filled with this team just does illegal chop blocks all the time. When in essence, it’s cut blocks. Some Refs do not know the difference either. I have also seen calls this season where a lineman is engaged high blocking and anothe lineman helps out blocking in the waste are. That is NOT a chop block but the Refs called it one about a half dozen times this season.

  7. Stopping chop blocks does not make it a less violent game it makes it a less dirty game. Implementation of the rule and the actual enforcement are two different things. How many running backs are being flagged for using the crown of the helmet? None. Yet it is still a rule that has been put in the NFL rule book. It seems defense is the only side of the ball that gets personal fouls and fined by the NFL.

  8. You are conflating Chop blocks with Cut Blocks. Chop blocks are already illegal. Cut Blocks are legal in every level of football.

    Having said that, I TOTALLY agree it’s time to do away with Cut Blocks. I’ve witnessed too many young athletes suffer devastating knee injuries due to perfectly legal cut blocks. It’s time to eliminate Cut Blocks at all levels.

  9. redrew says:
    Mar 2, 2016 11:30 AM

    Take away illegal cap maneuvers and the chop block and Denver would have zero Lombardi trophies.


    But Shanahan’s teams live and die by the chop block. It has always seemed that that’s the only block his run blocking schemes utilized.

  10. There goes Denver’s chance of ever winning another Super Bowl…now if they can ever stop Von Miller from lining up off sides on every play they will never even sniff the playoffs.

  11. I have witnessed too many running backs having their knees blown out because it’s still legal for the defense to hit him in the knees while he is running. Is this not the same type of possible injury everyone is worried about ? Or worse yet , defense is permitted to tackle around the ankles of a receiver therebye twisting him and doing it at a full all out sprint. Is this not unsafe ?

    Next it will be offensive linemen are not permitted to touch defensive lineman. That’s it. The NFL will have them hold up giant STOP signs and the defense may choose, on their own accord, to ignore the stop sign and go blast a running back from the side, in a full sprint at the knee are while another DLineman , in a full sprint, hits him in the ankle area. I know it sounds crazy but people , that’s what is being allowed and then the league and fans and media pee and moan when an offensive lineman hits someone low ? Sorry, I don’t get it

  12. not saying I agree with it but instead of parsing it out little by little the league just needs to rip the band aid off and do it all at once – All contact, offensive or defensive, must take place between the shoulders and bottom of the thigh- that’s where they are headed anyway.

  13. I think they would eliminlunts and kick offs also. I guess the still used term ” gunner ” is a safe term to use. Needless to say there it’s not a safety factor where at least,10 fully grown young athletic men are permitted to run full sprint down an entire football field in attempt to tackle one person Regardless if that’s at the ankles, knees,hips ,thighs or chest area

    Also the kicker himself. I mean kicking a hard object with ones foot in frigid weather ? Woo. That is truly unsafe for the top of the kickers foot area.

  14. If Chop Blocks were used on Quarterbacks, this would have been illegal since the time when Cam Newton was playing pee-wee football.

    It because it happens “only” to defensive players that it isn’t already illegal.

  15. Who would have known that outlawing hits across the middle would result in coaches sending their expendable players over the middle to draw contact penalties?

    The rule sounds good but it should be tabled until the dinosaur owners die off and a capable commissioner comes along.

  16. who cares???? I see this called about 2-3 times a year and I watch tons of football. Focus your rules adjustment on rules that actually matter on a weekly basis. Sheesh

  17. Good article Mike. How many injuries resulted from a chop Block last year, does anyone know?

  18. “But Shanahan’s teams live and die by the chop block. It has always seemed that that’s the only block his run blocking schemes utilized.”

    That was indeed his offensive system. Constant chop blocks and those Denver Olines injured a lot of defenders over the years with them.

  19. “Second, two offensive players who were lined up more than one position away from each other on the line of scrimmage at the snap may chop a defensive player if the flow of the player is toward the block.”

    You can’t tell me that a zebra can discern that distinction at game speed.

  20. One more step closer to two hand touch. Horrible. These guys know what they signed up for. You want to make the big bucks, then you’re gonna get banged up a little.

  21. But if you get rid of chop blocks, the Ravens will never rise above 2 ypc again.

  22. Don’t kill the messenger. It was called an illegal chop block nslauson was at the second level dunking toward the play,’then turned in opposite direction and hit Cushing low. Was called illegal chop block. You would have to ask the official why.

  23. The media, lawyers and the political correctness agenda has ruined football.
    I totally understand eliminating head hunting and guy’s diving at QBs knees but the money grubbers and shysters are just doing what they do.

  24. Please show me the actual evidence that knee and ankle injuries are caused by chop blocks. the NFL always says stuff like this but rarely provides evidence. I watch games all the time and never see this. Most knee injuries occur out in the open. Most ankle injuries occur in pile ups. leave the game alone. It’s good the way it is.

    Or at least the way it was before all of Goodell’s concussion BS.

  25. I am for anything that will help against leg injuries,
    but that ban could virtually doom the Running back
    position. Sweeps, Traps, depend on double teams.
    It will take some pretty good Coaching to stop it to open holes.

  26. tjacks7 says:
    Mar 2, 2016 11:53 AM
    Serious question… Who was the last player that suffered a career ending injury from a chop block?
    After the 2002 realignment created the NFC South and the Panthers started playing Tampa twice a year, I quickly developed a severe hatred for Kenyatta Walker. A chop block was the one and only type of block Walker ever attempted to make. Dirtiest lineman of all time. Between him and Warren Sapp’s unstoppable mouth, they became the easiest team in the world to hate.

  27. NFL soon to be changing their name to NFFL.
    National Flag Football League.

  28. I missed the game, did the NFL really play “touch” football for the Pro Bowl? That being said, I’ve been chopped blocked before and it almost ended my playing days before I ended them on my own. Pretty dangerous tactic.

  29. Stop getting rid of things in the league. How about we increase freedom and repeal some of the limitations we have already. Like the stupid strike zone and head shots.

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