Mar 17, 2011
Obviously, the lockout has prevented a steady stream of news from sneaking out of NFL land, but Wednesday still saw an important meeting of the NFL competition committee, which recommended several rule changes for the 2011 season and beyond. Here is a brief rundown of the rules suggested.
- The biggest change would be moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line, and moving touchback start points from the 20 to the 25. The committee believes that serious injuries can be avoided by marginalizing the kickoff, which is tough to argue. But how will a team like the Chicago Bears, so dependent on star KR Devin Hester, feel about the rule changes? We can’t imagine they’re thrilled.
- Wedge blocking, of the two or three-man variety, would be banned on returns. The competition committee banned three-man wedges last season, but teams were able to scheme around the rule changes with two-man wedges. This rule will seek to change that.
- The committee has recommended expanding instant replay. If passed, the new replay rules would require a replay official to watch every scoring play and determine if the correct call was made, as opposed to a coach having to use a challenge flag on a pivotal play. The idea is to prevent coaches from having to use one of their precious few challenges to overturn a blown call on a key touchdown, which could help reduce the strategic nature of using challenges. It also could protect coaches who were forced to use all their challenges earlier in a game from being victim to a bad call on a scoring play later on.
- The committee suggested suspensions, on top of fines, for blatantly violent and illegal hits.
Obviously, the changes to kickoff returns would have major effects on return-yardage leagues, and guys like Hester, Brad Smith, and Marc Mariani could lose significant value.
Although he still has a soft spot for Minnesota, free agent WR Randy Moss minced no words about his desire to return to New England. Good luck with that Randy.
Potential #1 pick QB Blaine Gabbert impressed with a 42 (of 50) on the Wonderlic test.
Bengal WR Chad Ochocinco, a noted soccer fan, will receive a tryout with MLS’s Sporting Kansas City.
- Joe Dolan