“NFL Rule Book-Change After Change”
A busy week in Indianapolis. It’s NFL combine week, where every team evaluates everything about potential draft picks.
But behind closed doors, important meetings are taking place too, not involving scouts, prospects, doctors, coaches or GMs.
It’s the NFL competition committee, trying to sort out the quagmire of problems with NFL rules.
Instant replay has aided the NFL by use of multiple angles, and slow motion, to make sure the correct call is made on big plays, especially in the biggest games of the year, the post-season.
Or so we thought.
The NFL in the last five years, as the growth of replay continued, the rule book got thicker and thicker. Layer upon layer of explanations were added, making the officials job tougher, and the instant replay review even more complex.
So this week, the Competition Committee has decided to re-write the “Catch Rule”.
You name it, we’ve had controversy after controversy. The Dez Bryant catch. The Jesse James catch. The Rob Gronkowski catch. It goes on and on, with interperation’s as different as the day of the week.
Look for a language change in the catch rule. Catch the ball, make a football move, hold onto the ball. That seems simple enough.
But the debate. What is a football move? How many steps must the receiver take in possession of the ball? Must he head up field, or is allowed to run lateral or even give ground?
How many steps must he take in bounds before he goes out of bounds? How many steps must be in the end zone before he goes out of bounds?
Will you re-do the contact rule, where a defender can knock a receiver out, even with the ball, and have it be a non-catch, because both feet did not come down in bounds?
What do you do about the ball moving in the receivers hands, as he goes to the ground? Does he have true possession, is he in possession but moving it from one hand to another? Is he being jostled causing the ball to come loose of grip?
Can the ground cause the fumble, or is a receiver downed by contact? And what if the ball is moving when he hits the ground after being contacted?
So now we see what the NFL does in terms of different language.
You could simplify the rule by making a reception like college football, just one foot in-bounds.
You could allow the receiver to be treated like a running back-quarterback, if the ball breaks the plane of the goal-line, t’s a TD, doing away with ‘completing the play’.
The sideline play, if he has the ball in possession in the air, and is in-bounds, but gets knocked out of bounds, make that a catch. could that be a catch.
The idea that this can be solved easily is absurd.
The game is so fast, so quick, with such great players, it may be impossible to solve the question. Simplify the rule.And instant replay will be there to solve he questions that will arise.
What’s a catch? Des Bryant, Jesse James, Rob Gronkowski are all waiting for the new rule. So are the coaches and fans.
We’ll find out by Friday, when the new language is put in place, leading to an owners vote later in the spring..