The NFL's rulebook is constantly changing and new rules for the 2016 NFL season were approved on Tuesday by the league owners. Out of the eighteen new rules proposed by teams and the Competition Committee, seven have made the cut and will become official for the upcoming season. Highlighting the approved changes are the banning of all chop blocks, an expansion to the horse-collar tackle penalty and the decision to make the extra point change that debuted in 2015 a permanent addition to the game.
By Competition Committee; Permanently moves the line of scrimmage for Try kicks to the defensive team's 15-yard line, and allows the defense to return any missed Try.
By Competition Committee; Permits the offensive and defensive play callers on the coaching staffs to use the coach-to-player communication system regardless of whether they are on the field or in the coaches' booth.
By Competition Committee; Makes all chop blocks illegal.
By Competition Committee; Expands the horse collar rule to include when a defender grabs the jersey at the name plate or above and pulls a runner toward the ground.
By Competition Committee; Makes it a foul for delay of game when a team attempts to call a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.
By Competition Committee; Eliminates the five-yard penalty for an eligible receiver illegally touching a forward pass after being out of bounds and re-establishing himself inbounds, and makes it a loss of down.
By Competition Committee; Eliminates multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession
A chop block is defined as an attempt by an offensive player (usually a lineman) to perform a cut block (a block below or at the thighs) on a defensive player while another offensive player is already engaged in an above-the-waist block with that same defensive player. It is a highly dangerous move that can often result in terrible injury to a player's legs. Tyrunn Walker was injured in this fashion against the Seahawks last season. Before the rule was changed, these type of blocks were legal in certain running play situations in the NFL. Chop blocks have been illegal across the board in NCAA football since 1980.
It's certainly a win for player safety as leg, ankle and thigh injuries are just as great of a concern as concussions for playing longevity. Also a win for player safety is the expansion of the horse collar tackle rule.
Michigan basketball fans will undoubtedly take note of the "Chris Webber"-esque rule being applied to the delay of game that will now be called if a team calls timeout without any actual timeouts available. The Lions were guilty of this on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints last season.
The decision to make the point-after try kick a permanent addition to the game speaks to the league's insistence on trying to make the kick meaningful, although questions are still being raised if it is successful at this time.
Some of the changes that did not make it through Tuesday were Washington's proposal to eliminate overtimes during preseason games, a proposal to change the spot after a touchback from kickoffs to the 25-yard line, disqualification of a player who is penalized twice for certain unsportsmanlike conduct calls and numerous proposals by various teams to change how coach's challenges are handled.