Friday, August 5, 2016

NFL Referee Craig Wrolstad explains 2016 Rule Changes

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14-year NFL referee Craig Wrolstad and part of his crew met with members of the media to discuss some of the rule changes for the 2016 season. Daniel House recaps the new rules he learned during the annual officiating meeting. 

Updated: August 5th, 2016 2:15pm

By: Daniel House

14-year NFL referee Craig Wrolstad and part of his crew met with members of the media to discuss some of the rule changes for the 2016 season. There are several areas of emphasis that the league will implement to improve player safety and sportsmanship.

They are outlined below:

Chop Blocks
First, all chop blocks are illegal. A chop block originally was legal when it involved two adjacent lineman. Distinguishing whether the lineman was adjacent was difficult according to Wrolstad. No matter where the chop block occurs on the field or who it is committed by, they are now completely illegal.

Unsportsmanlike Penalties
Additionally, a player penalized twice for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will be disqualified. However, if a player commits one penalty that warrants disqualification, they will still be ejected from the game.

Horse Collar Tackle Expanded
A horse call tackle will now be called when a defender grabs at or above the nameplate. The only areas horse collar tackles are not applicable occur when quarterbacks are in the pocket or when ball carriers are within the tackle box.

Touchbacks now placed at 25-yard line
Any kick that goes out of the back of the end zone during a kickoff will now be placed at the 25-yard line instead of the 20.

Calling timeouts without having any
If a player or coach calls a timeout on the field without the team having any left, they will be assessed a five-yard delay of game penalty.

Quarterbacks are now protected in pocket
Any low hit below the waist with the quarterback in the pocket will be a 15-yard penalty. This excludes the defender swiping the quarterback low with the arm or hand. The goal is to ensure the safety of the quarterback when he is in the pocket. When outside the pocket, the quarterback gains protection when they slide feet first. If the quarterback rushes outside of the pocket and slides head first or sideways, they are granted no protection.

Crown of the helmet rule change
The crown of the helmet rule now applies when a defender lowers the crown of their helmet and makes a hit on any part of the body outside of the tackle box.

Pre-Snap ball movement
If a long-snapper or center adjusts the ball when the line is already set, the team will be called for a 5-yard false start penalty. This applies to snaps on all offensive plays and kicking situations.

Blindside blocks on kick and punt returns
Any blindside block on kick and punt returns in the head or neck area is a 15-yard penalty. If the block occurs above the waist or below the neck, it is deemed legal.

Coaches being on the field
All coaches are not allowed on the field at all times. They must remain on the sideline to do coaching or the team will assessed a 15-yard penalty.

The NFL implemented these rules after hours of film study and input from players, coaches, and league officials. The referees hope the rule changes will improve player safety and sportsmanship, while providing clarity to the rule book.

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