July 26, 2019
On Friday in the Philadelphia Eagles' auditorium, media was shown the NFL's 2019 rule change (and point-of-emphasis) video, which I recorded, George Costanza-style. I think I did a decent enough job holding steady for the duration of this thing. Anyway, it's worth watching so you know what to expect heading into the 2019 season.
The "big" change this year is the ability to review pass interference calls. However, the rule that is most likely to infuriate people who are unaware of the changes is going to be in regard to "blindside" blocks.
In previous years, you could lay a guy out on a blindside block as long as you didn't hit him in the head or neck area. Now, you basically can't hit them with any kind of force at all.
"They’re trying to get away from that forcible contact, catching that player who doesn’t see the contact coming and can’t protect himself," NFL referee Shawn Smith explained. "Last year it used to be that the blindside hits (were illegal) if they were hits to the head and neck area. Now it’s just the full body, so no matter where you hit them. A couple of those plays that they show (in the video), especially the Buffalo play, that was a legal hit last year.
"It’s just trying to get rid of those forcible blows, so using any part of your body – shoulder, forearm, anything going parallel to the line of scrimmage or back toward the goal line – is what they’re looking for to get out of the game."
In the legal blindside blocks demonstrated in the video, the blocker is pretty much either setting a pick, basketball-style, or trying to shield off a tackler if on the run.
Asked if anything more than that would be likely to draw a flag, Smith responded, "Yeah, basically, if it’s forcible… just trying to take those forcible blows out."
Blindside blocks are some of the most brutal hits in football. If you like the violence of football, you won't like this new rule. If you don't want to see an important player on your favorite team have his career ended by one, then you probably won't mind the change so much.
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