NFL bans all chop blocks

The chop block is no longer legal in the National Football League.

For decades, defensive players have complained about chop blocks, which happen when one offensive player blocks a defensive player low while another offensive player blocks the defensive player high. In recent years, the NFL has added more restrictions to cut down on chop blocks, but today the league voted to ban them entirely.

Defensive linemen will celebrate the league’s decision, which came from a vote of the NFL’s owners at today’s meeting. Some offensive linemen and coaches, however, believe that in certain situations chop blocks are fair game and are necessary to properly block on certain plays.

Ultimately, the NFL decided that with its increased emphasis on player safety, the league simply couldn’t justify allowing a move that so many players say can lead to serious knee injuries. And so the 2016 season will mark the first year in the history of the NFL that all chop blocks are illegal, all the time.

86 responses to “NFL bans all chop blocks

  1. Good on the NFL. 39 years ago, while playing defense in high school, ligaments in my knee were torn thanks to a chop block. It causes me some pain to this day.

  2. I thought a blocking a player low who was engaged with another player was already a personal foul…How can you ban something that is already illegal? Unless the foul now results in an ejection. Maybe I have the wrong interpretation of a chop block..

  3. It was legal in some situations (run plays). Per wikipedia…

    Chop blocks are illegal in the NFL on passing and kicking plays, as well on any play with attempted pass blocking or kick protection but which are actually running plays. It is also an illegal chop block if a player “lures” a defender by “pass-blocking posture” while another player chops him.

  4. Ariani – the Packers will survive by throwing the ball.

    Something Teddy can’t really do more than 10 yards down the field.

  5. kurdishpats1 says:
    Mar 22, 2016 12:46 PM
    Wait, if it has been a flag all these years, doesn’t that mean it’s always been banned?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    It was allowed situationally. If the two offensive linemen were lined up next to each other or if the two offensive linemen were lined up one spot away from each other and the lineman pulling was moving in the direction of the play it didn’t draw a flag.

    Obviously, this will no longer be the case.

  6. A rule change that benefits defensive players? Someone better check on Bill Polian’s well being quick, he may be in need of resuscitation

  7. chumpley says:
    Mar 22, 2016 12:46 PM
    Good on the NFL. 39 years ago, while playing defense in high school, ligaments in my knee were torn thanks to a chop block. It causes me some pain to this day.

    ———-

    Exact same story here, Chumpley except it was 23 years ago for me. There’s no situation where a chop block should be legal and I’m glad that’s the case now.

  8. 3 years too late for Marquis Pouncey who lost a season by his own teammate’s poorly executed chop block….

  9. Isn’t that ref in the picture up there doing the same move that Carson Palmer did last season? The move that got everyone in a dither?

  10. Looks like it’ll be a long season for the Ratbirds then, the chop block was their favorite technique!

  11. This move is too quick. I’m not even sure what’s wrong with the rule but I know whenever Goodell does something to reduce contact, more injuries occur. The league has to get past these kneejerk reactions.

  12. I’m a Seahawks fan and I have to say this will cause the team to significantly rethink its run game. Marshawn Lynch made his career on backside cuts opened by chop blocks (that and crazy-good balance that helped him break a lot of tackles)… Like a lot of zone blocking teams this is going to take away a core part of the strategy. They will have a lot of work to do. Probably for the better, but I think this will have a pretty big impact.

  13. “NEXT; NFL bans contact. Any touching of an opponent is now illegal”

    I’m waiting for the rule disallowing mean looks or glaring at the opposing QB prior to the play.

  14. “Wait, if it has been a flag all these years, doesn’t that mean it’s always been banned?”

    The play once upon a time was legal all over the field then rules started to outlaw it in places, I believe last year it was only legal inside the tackle box but I’m not positive. Now it is banned everywhere.

  15. For those of you fans complaining about this rule, go out and have a guy who outweighs you by 100 pounds dive at your knees several times, then get back to me.

  16. Good rule. But shouldn’t they institute this in 2018? Seriously, the guy that said that zone blocking is dead is right. This will dramatically impact teams that run zone blocking on run plays. These teams specifically look for smaller, more athletic linemen to run the scheme. The scheme that will now be dramatically less effective. But they make the change AFTER free agency, meaning that zone blocking teams have less chance to react to the change.

  17. joemontanawasthegreatest
    Mar 22, 2016, 12:45 PM EDT
    Will the 1997-1998 Broncos have to give their rings back?

    Why not?! According to some people the Patriots should have to give back their rings from 2001, 2003 and 2004 cause they broke a rule that was created in 2006. So by that logic, yes the Broncos should give back those 2 titles. And then everyone can call them cheaters. I love that logic.

  18. safest way would be to get rid of all offensive linemen except for the center, allow 2 defensive linemen, and count.

    1 Mississippi
    2 Mississippi
    3 Mississippi

  19. One of the rules that actually make sense. If they can only figure out what a catch is, they might have something going on.

  20. bunglesandbears says:
    Mar 22, 2016 1:13 PM
    So are Cut blocks still legal?
    ———————————
    same question about the crackback blocks..
    ——————————————————————

    Cut blocks are and SHOULD be legal. They are very different than chop blocks and are often the only way a RB can slow down a DE/OLB in pass pro.

    Crackbacks, eh, I can see how that is more borderline, personally I think it should be legal (again, it allows for smaller players to still have a chance to block bigger players) but I am not sure if it is still legal overall or only situationally.

  21. The NFL just announced that along with banning chop blocking defensive linemen now must count to 3 Mississippi before rushing to make sure the QB has the same amount of time. The NFL doesn’t want a rule change to make it easier to get to the QB after all.

  22. please clarify. Does this mean a 200 lb RB cannot go low on a 270 lb blitzing LB aiming for the qb?

  23. bunglesandbears says:
    Mar 22, 2016 1:13 PM
    So are Cut blocks still legal?
    ———————————
    same question about the crackback blocks..
    _______________

    Cut blocks are still legal. Difference is that a chop block is done low while a player is engaged high or if posturing of a lineman draws a defender high while another lineman hits low.

    Crackbacks are illegal if below the waist.

    As a lifelong Broncos fan, I’m glad this rule is finally passed. It is used in the zone blocking scheme that we perfected in the late ’90s and I never liked it. I remeber Alex Gibbs coaching it’s effectiveness by saying “a defensive lineman isn’t going to go as hard if he’s keeping his hands down to protect his knees against a chop block”. You can still cut block and have the same effect of getting a defensive lineman on the ground, taking him out if the play, but the defender has a fighting chance if he’s not already engaged high. Seems fair and I look forward to the challenge and future success for my Broncos and any other ZB teams.

  24. “safest way would be to get rid of all offensive linemen except for the center, allow 2 defensive linemen, and count.

    1 Mississippi
    2 Mississippi
    3 Mississippi”

    Is that what the Colts were thinking in their game against the Pats last season?

  25. joemontanawasthegreatest says:
    Mar 22, 2016 12:45 PM
    Will the 1997-1998 Broncos have to give their rings back?
    _____________________________________
    Do you mean the rings they won while secretly paying Elway and Davis 10s of millions of $$$ under the table? Or maybe 2 rings they won with Vaseline slathered all over their jerseys? How about the rings they got after all the chop blocks, crack back blocks, and cut blocks that were all systematically taught with the intent to injure and maim?

  26. RIP zone blocking schemes. And “one-cut” RBs are now worth even less to NFL GMs than they were before.

  27. Rule change proposals

    1) Get rid of the hash marks, they serve no purpose what-so-ever.

    2) One foot in bounds for receptions

    3) Ground can cause fumble

  28. I’m sure the fans applauding this decision are the same ones who bash Goodell every article, yet mysteriously leave him out of positive things like this….

  29. Guess Jeff Fisher is out of a job….dirtiest coach in the NFL
    ——
    Zero impact on Fisher. His teams don’t rely on chop blocks. Now, if this was a story about late hits you might have been a bit more on target.

  30. philly444 says:
    Mar 22, 2016 2:05 PM

    Rule change proposals

    1) Get rid of the hash marks, they serve no purpose what-so-ever.

    2) One foot in bounds for receptions

    3) Ground can cause fumble

    ———-
    1) They serve as the area a ball should be snapped from at the line of scrimmage. Without them, fans would be complaining that their team’s spot is too close to the sideline forcing a play in a certain direction. Also, there’s something cosmetically pleasing about the look of a football field with hash marks.

    2) I don’t think one foot or two feet changes the game all that much. But don’t we already favor the receivers enough with all the rule protection they get?

    3) I’d amend this to “ground can cause a fumble if the player isn’t down.” Because the ground CAN cause a fumble if the player dives for distance untouched and loses the ball before crossing the goal line. 90% of the time when the “ground causes the fumble” it is simultaneous to being downed. I don’t think this rule is hurting the league.

    My rule changes:
    -Smaller pads/less Kevlar padding, and forcing players to use new anti-concussion helmet tech (legally, the league should enforce this to protect themselves).
    -All targeting penalties result in ejection and fine.
    -Any runner using the crown of his helmet to gain extra yardage gets the same targeting designation and ejection.
    -Remove kickoffs or revert back to the old distance so that there are actually kickoff returns.
    -Allow coaches challenges to also be used for non-subjective penalties that can be proven with replay (I.E. phantom face-masks or late hits)
    -Punting in the air out of bounds is a 10 yard penalty from the spot it goes out. (similar to kickoffs but not as punitive) If it bounces out of bounds, then they shouldn’t have let it bounce…

  31. “If NCAA passes the same rule, Georgia Tech is screwed.”

    Chop blocks are already illegal in college football, have been since 1980.

  32. So chop blocks are illegal but what about cut blocks. You know going low to take out the legs of an unengaged defensive player. Is that still fine? Because when a blitzing player gets his knees taking out by a back, thats just as dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether they or engaged or not.

  33. rportkid says:
    Mar 22, 2016 3:09 PM

    What am I missing? Haven’t chop blocks always been illegal? What’s the difference between illegal and banned?

    ==================================

    It’s been legal on running and kicking plays in the NFL.

    This is an outstanding change, way too many players careers and seasons have been ended by chop blocks. Also, many teams don’t use chop blocks because it’s honestly scrub move so it’ll level the playing field.

    There are lots of players that hate that they’re made to use the chop block so this’ll be welcome by the players in a big way.

  34. Also a chop block is when a offensive player goes low to block an engaged defensive player. This is always supposed to be illegal. However a CUT block which is the same thing but the defensive player is not engaged is legal. But I thought it had to be at the line of scrimmage now and not in open field.

  35. Finally, the exceptions to the rule have been eliminated. I always wondered how they player’s knees knew when it was a “legal” chop block. lol

    ALL chop blocks should have been illegal, not just ones based on player alignment.

  36. need more information. Chop blocks have always been illegal. What now did they add to the rules that are illegal?

  37. davebarnes21 says:
    Mar 22, 2016 1:19 PM

    wow. gonna kill the screen game.
    another blindly foolish decision by Goodell.
    ____________
    Rule changes are made by committee – not the commissioner. Goodell is just a facilitator.

    But hey – don’t let the facts get in the way of a good bashing

  38. 9/10ths of the people commenting here never played a down of real football or are women–or perhaps are both;

    ANYONE who ever played knows that absolutely no blocker aims higher than the knees when blocking, because that is what all blockers are taught–GO FOR THE KNEES;

    therefore essentially there is no difference between a chop, crack back, cut, pull, peel, roll, whip or kick-out block–and every season somebody (usually in a Denver, Green Bay, Atlanta, Seathl or Patriot uniform–funny how it’s always the same teams always make the playoffs) gets away with a blatant example;

    time to do away with ALL blocks below the waist–only that and enlarging the field by at least 20% will make the NFL safer;

  39. The Ravens have a new OC almost every season, including each of the last four. They are always dealing with revamping the offense. The Stealers, OTOH, will just resort to their usual cheapshots, then cry foul when the opposing team gets one in. That, along with having their coach run on the field in the middle of kick returns because his special teams suck and other novel moves that even Belicheat would cringe over.

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