NFL to vote on expanding rule penalizing blocking below the waist

Cincinnati Bengals v Seattle Seahawks
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More flags on blocks below the waist may be thrown in 2021, if a new rule proposal passes.

The NFL owners will vote on a rule that would greatly expand the prohibition on blocking below the waist, making such blocks illegal by offensive and defensive players if contact occurs beyond five yards on either side of the line of scrimmage and more than two yards outside of either offensive tackle.

Former NFL referee Terry McAulay, who analyzes officiating for NBC Sports, says the new rule would be a significant change, noting that it would give the NFL more restrictions against blocking below the waist than the NCAA has.

All such illegal blocks would carry a 15-yard penalty.

This might result in more flags being thrown, but it also might result in fewer lower body injuries, as players often complain that when their opponents block them low, it risks serious knee injuries. When the Competition Committee proposes a rule for player safety, the NFL owners rarely vote it down, so this rule has a good chance of passing.

28 responses to “NFL to vote on expanding rule penalizing blocking below the waist

  1. Yes, less injures. But Sorensen helmet to helmet hit on Higgins is still legal?

  2. It’s a good start, but it’s not enough. I propose each player be given a set of flags affixed to a belt to wear. Rather than tackling the ball carrier, the opposing team must attempt to remove the flags of the ball carrier to stop him/her/they. To assist the ball carrier his/her/their team may attempt to stand in the path of the opposing team. However, these blockers may not use his/her/their arms or hands to block and can not purposefully initiate bodily contact with any other player.

  3. just add the other F already NFFL 0 if you can’t figure it out, the extra f is for flag!!

  4. With all the rule changes just put flags/dresses on the players and call it a day. Vince Lombardi must be rolling in his grave with how they have watered down the game.

  5. Great. More opportunities for flags to be thrown on borderline calls. Yes I understand this is for player safety, but lets stop pretending this is close to the sport that has been played even 20 years ago. Considering the 17 game season is upon us, lets start record keeping all over again. Frankly, comparing passing yards or receiving yards current day to the past no longer makes sense as the rules have changed so much.

  6. This is great. I was just thinking the other day “ I wish the NFL had a way to throw more flags” and this should be a huge step in the right direction.

  7. I don’t like to see the injuries , seeing another person in pain should causes some sense of empathy – on the other hand we watch football to get away from situations that are intense that cause empathy – tough balance in this game between enjoyment of playing and watching the game vs player safety – maybe in actuality it shouldn’t be played with the size and speed of players today

  8. Just what the game needs, more flags. Sorry but these guys know from an early age this is a violent game where injuries occur. The game has been watered down so much they might as well make it flag football. The lingerie womens league put the nfl to shame on the contact hits they made. Those were some tough girls who played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. Tough game for tough people.

  9. They’re taking the violence out of this game and George won’t watch anymore, George is getting upset

  10. Blocking or tackling? Does it mean a DB can’t chase down a runner headed for the end zone by grabbing his legs or feet or is this about blocking around the line of scrimmage?

  11. The NFL is already horribly overregulated. It seems like there is a pentalty every third play or so. Dump this rule

  12. Two issues. First; I’d like to see the stats that show the significant amount of injuries that have occurred by the low blocks outside the prescribed area. (Compare those numbers to the ones at the line & I suspect that is where it happens most.) Most importantly; how will helping the pass rush from outside the tackles hitting the QB help, safety wise? (No longer can the RB dive to try and save his QB.)

  13. Another insincere attempt by the NFL to protect the players, all the while they’ve added another game to their schedule.
    I am like most fans — I think the NFL is being ruined by all of this stuff.

  14. It can come up on screens, and can probably save a knew injury here and there, but DBs won’t be able to stop Olinemen anymore. Its probably not going to get called much after players get used to it.

  15. Perhaps more importantly, if this rule is enacted it would slightly tip the field in the favor of the defense after decades of rule changes favoring the offense. I’ll take anything I can get that returns a bit of balance to this league.

  16. Good change. Because one thing the NFL fans want is more flags. They approve 17 games and then come of with this rule for player safety. Talk about gaslighting.

  17. Nobody wants knee injuries, but honestly it seems like most of them happen by accident, not in planned blocks. It seems like 99% of them happen when a guy falls on an engaged lineman. Not much you can do about that.

    Some of the rule changes lately for player safety have zero impact. The QB rules are overkill, and on top of that, frequently clean hits are mistakenly called penalties simply because the QB was hit hard. The Aaron Rodgers rule where a defender can’t put his weight on the QB on impact is based on one play. The other 10,000 times a QB was hit it wasn’t an issue. And Anthony Barr didn’t even put his weight on Rodgers on impact. Rodgers put his arm out to break his fall, and broke his collarbone instead. Maybe they should teach QBs more injury-preventing tactics instead of over-regulating hits.

    Another one that is absurd is the leading with the helmet when the target player lowers his head for contact. Either the tackler stays up and gets whacked, or is forced dive at the player’s feet, or go for an arm tackle that isn’t gonna work.

  18. I understand the safety aspect but perhaps the direction should be knee braces and other personal protective gear rather than subjective calls with severe game changing penalties

  19. Somewhere on a zoom session every former Denver Offensive Lineman is screaming about this possible rule change. Can almost hear Mark Schlaereth, Zimmerman, and others screaming how am I supposed to do my job if I can’t cut block or leg whip?!?

  20. Wow, this is very specific. Five yards on either side of the line, and two yards outside the tackles. Unless they’re planning on help from the video booth, or adding a couple more refs on the field to monitor these precise zones, this is, without a doubt, going to result in bad calls every game. I’ve come to the conclusion that the NFL finds it profitable to have bad calls every game. People go to work the following Monday and discuss NFL football. They’re complaining about bad calls, but still, everyone is talking about NFL football. ocgunslinger (above) makes a good point about wearing knee braces. Everyone would have the same advantage/disadvantage.

  21. No hitting the QB, No tackling, and No blocking… ping pong anyone. The sport is really becoming unwatchable… especially when you add in the poor officiating. NFL – Not For Long!!

  22. Seems like they’ve already gotten rid of blocks below the waist in most situations so what exactly would be changing? I’m imagining lots of flags for stuff that really was never a block but just a case of a guy falling down in the general vicinity of another player.

  23. Honestly, they should have made cut blocks illegal sixty years ago in Conrad Dobler’s day. The NFL rule book is full of unclear, unnecessary, and downright stupid rules, but getting rid of cut blocks has been a long time coming. From a practical standpoint, this is going to necessitate a sea change in the way that zone blocking on the non-play side works. It will be interesting to see how coaches who have utilized a zone blocking scheme for their entire careers will adapt, or if man blocking monopolizes the league. We may even see the return of the stout blocking fullback who can go toe-to-toe with a linebacker in space Another huge effect that this rule will have is that Will linebackers and box safeties will be in line to make some spectacular backfield tackles, and slot corners will be a frightening weapon in the pass rush.

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