Plenty of fans — and definitely some players (including Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor) — don’t like the idea of banning the ability of defensive players to leap over the line of scrimmage to block a field goal. But before any players individually object to the potential change, they should consider the official position of the players collectively.
Three weeks ago in Indianapolis, NFLPA president Eric Winston made it clear that the union wants to give the leap the boot.
“The jump-over rule on the field goal concerns me,” Winston said during an appearance on PFT Live. “I would say that there’s a chance for a big injury on that play. Just for the jumper getting his legs caught up and landing on his head and for the offensive linemen in between the ‘A’ and ‘B’ gaps. If that guys and gets his legs hit and falls on someone’s leg, those are big injuries. Those aren’t sprained-ankle sort of injuries.”
Currently, a violation arises only if the leaper lands on an offensive player, due to safety concerns. So the risky behavior is permitted as long as the risk doesn’t result in the kind of contact that directly risks harm to a player.
Instead of allowing teams to make the risk-reward determination to send a jumper over the line (which in turn creates an incentive for the offense to take out the jumper’s legs), the smarter play is to revise the play, forcing teams that hope to block field goals to retreat to the days of getting around the edge or pushing back the lineman hard and getting up high in the hopes of making contact with the kick.