The NFL’s major offseason rule change banning lowering the helmet to initiate contact has turned into much ado about nothing.
Through four weeks, there have been only four penalties called under the new rule, the NFL confirmed to PFT.
That’s a huge departure from the way the officials were enforcing the rule during the first two weeks of the preseason: Over the first two weeks of the preseason, officials called the new penalty at a rate of about 1.5 flags per game. Now they’re calling less than 0.1 per game.
At first, the NFL said the lowering the helmet rule was a major rule change that was going to significantly affect the way players played. But after Week Two of the preseason, the league “clarified” the rule, and the calls declined. The league clearly impressed upon the officials only to call the most flagrant of penalties, and that meant this new rule became no big deal.
Players are still violating the letter of the rule — Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt offered a textbook example of what is supposed to be a penalty on Monday night — but the officials aren’t calling it. And so the biggest story of the offseason has become nothing but a footnote in the regular season.