The NFL has always tried reducing the risks players face every time they take the field without affecting the excitement viewers get from watching their favorite teams compete. The NFL Competition Committee recommends changes to rules after reviewing the input it receives from medical personnel, players, general managers, coaches, media, and owners. The league then goes over the rule changes with officials, coaches, and players to help them adapt.
Kickoff rules now permanent
The kickoff rule changes implemented in the previous year have now been made permanent. The kickoff rules prohibit wedge blocks, dictate how the kicking and receiving team will line up, when and where teams are permitted to block, and the occasion the ball will be declared dead.
The rule changes appeared to be effective last year. We saw reduced concussions during kickoff plays by 35%, they will hopefully have the same effect this season as well.
Not everyone is allowed to join in the celebrations
Seeing players celebrate after scoring a touchdown is one of the more entertaining elements in the NFL. Now, however, excessive celebrations are not the only type of celebrations being frowned upon.
For 2019, only those in uniform will be allowed to enter the field to join in on the celebrations. If someone not in uniform enters the field, it will be ruled as unsportsmanlike conduct. This would result in a 15-yard penalty.
Pass interference review
Defensive and offensive pass interference calls will be reviewable in 2019. If there is obvious and clear visual evidence that contact either didn’t significantly hinder or significantly hindered the opponent, then the on-field ruling will either stand or be overturned.
Although this NFL rule change is currently being implemented on a trial period, it will surely help ensure the right call is made in the end. Some fans are worried that it might slow down the game too much. However, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out this year.
Additional booth reviews
Aside from the pass interference rule, there will be additional plays that would be subject to booth reviews. For instance, every two-point conversion review will be initiated by the Replay Official.
Another play that is subject to a booth review is if a flag that would negate a touchdown is thrown. Officials will review the play first to determine if the opposition scored before the defending team enforced the foul.
‘Use of Helmet’
The ‘Use of Helmet’ rule implemented in 2018 will continue to be emphasized during the 2019 season. The rule will apply when a player lowers the head when not bracing for contact, initiates contact to any part of the opponent’s body with his helmet.
The ‘Use of Helmet’ foul can lead to a player being ejected, though senior officials will review all player ejections. The ejections will apply if the player making contact had an unobstructed path, or if it becomes clear that the contact was avoidable. Warning letters will be issued for fouls for players in the interior line or where space between players is limited.
Though this rule is not new, it will be enforced more strictly for the 2019 season especially on the line of scrimmage or the run play’s backside. Officials will monitor plays to make sure players from the offensive team do not restrict or alter the defender’s angle or path of pursuit.
Referees will be looking for tackling or grabbing an opponent, jerking, hooking, twisting, turning, or pulling an opponent to the ground. Clearly, officials are trying to cut down on the offensive holding calls that sometimes go unnoticed or unpunished.