The NFL competition committee is considering the banning of the controversial chop-block rule starting in the 2016 season, per several reports.
According to an ESPN report, NFL owners and executives indulged in lengthy conversations over the weekend, during the NFL Scouting Combine, in Indianapolis, and will continue the discussions at the owners-only meeting in Florida next month.
Needless to say, the primary reason for the rule change is to enhance player safety. A chop-block occurs when one offensive player blocks a defender low while a second player blocks the defender above his waist. Most chop blocks are already illegal, except for when offensive linesmen on running plays are lined up next to each other at the start of a play.
During the 2015-16 season, 17 chop-block penalties were called. A year before, there were only 10 such penalties. Last year, the Lions, Texans, Bills, Dolphins and Browns were called for multiple chock-block penalties. The rule change would once again highlight the NFL’s commitment to player-safety recommendations and would majorly impact the running games of teams across the league.
Geoff Schwartz, the veteran offensive lineman, welcomed the rule change via a tweet.
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) February 29, 2016
Similar to Tom Brady rule…
Chop blocks put defensive players in danger of lower leg injuries. Remember, the NFL executed the so-called Tom Brady rule to eliminate similar injuries for offensive players. By banning the chop-block rule, the NFL would be essentially protecting defensive players in the same way. “It seems only fair that defensive players get the same protections as offensive players, especially considering the rapidly shrinking area of the body which defensive players are allowed to hit in the open field,” writes Jared Dubin of CBS Sports.
Though it would make the game safer for defenders, the rule change could also bring to the forefront the recent offensive line struggles in the league. “Taking away another avenue for teams to double defenders would leave blockers responsible for their own man one-on-one more often, which could lead to even more inefficiency in the running game,” explained Dubin.
The NFL is constantly under pressure from organizations and legislators lobbying highlighting the risks of concussions and other career-altering injuries.