Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

05 Aug 2005

NFL Officials Visit to Discuss Rule Changes

NFL officials are making the rounds at training camp explaining rule changes for the 2005 season to players and coaches. Some highlights of the new rules include a penalty for a team whose coach throws the replay flag on the field after the team has run out of challenges, 15 yards for "icing the kicker" with an excess penalty before a field goal, and more protection for kickers from unnecessary roughness.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 05 Aug 2005

23 comments, Last at 08 Aug 2005, 6:56pm by Jake


by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 12:38pm

I've got ten bucks on Martz being the first to get called with the "Chris Webber" rule on challenges. Anyone want to take Mike Tice?

by Israel (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:00pm

"Last season, renewed enforcement of illegal contact and defensive holding dominated preseason officiating discussions. Those penalties again will be enforced vigilantly this season."

Does this mean more vigilantly than 2004? Was enforcement lax last year?

Regarding the red flag penalty, it seems to me to be of no benefit. If a batter starts to first base after three balls, they don't call him out, they just send him back to the box.

And the icing the kicker seems all wrong. If a coach thinks it works, why shouldn't he be able to do it?

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:16pm

I think the red flag rule is because when a red flag is thrown, the play clock stops, the entire progress of the game is stopped, and teams sort of could use it like a mini-timeout, or to get extra time to get the right guys on the field, or something, with no loss of field position or timeouts, since they were out of them.

It's an issue of time, and getting more of it when it isn't deserved - the same reason why a basketball player that calls a timeout when his team is out of timeouts is assessed a technical foul, a la the Chris Webber rule - the refs aren't keeping active track of timeouts at all times, and it's in their nature if they see someone call one to blow the whistle as quickly as possible to conserve seconds on the clock.

It doesn't matter in baseball because baseball isn't a timed game.


by David Keller (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:24pm

Mike Martz is no longer eligible to play college football.

by GBS (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:33pm

I believe there is a misunderstanding here regarding the penalty during a kick. After reading the article, I don't believe the penalty has anything to do with "icing the kicker" but will be called on a player who calls a timeout he doesn't have in an atttempt to disrupt the kicker's concentration.

by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 2:09pm

#5 is correct. Consider it the "Vrabel Rule". :-)

by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 2:18pm

Another "Officials coming to town" article is available at packers.com (click my name). I think this one is a little better at explaining things.

by Zac (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 2:20pm

And Re: 5 & 6. The Packers article disagrees with you. The rule is that you can't call consecutive timeouts. The Vrabel thing I think became a rule at midseason last year.

by Glenn (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 2:47pm

Re: kicking timeouts
I'm just a caveman mystified by your strange voice box contraptions and flying machines, but I think the Packers article is incorrect. I havent seen anything anywhere else that references back-to-back timeouts before a kick. I think the refs are explaining the Vrabel rule at camps precisely because it was instituted mid-season and did not have the benefit of face-to-face explanation to teams. By the way, creating that rule in the middle of the year really pissed off Coach B, who it appears was planning to use the tactic to disrupt kickers through the year.

by Ryan Mc (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 3:01pm

Could somebody elaborate on what exactly Vrabel did last season, please. I guess I missed that incident.

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 3:21pm

Click on my name for the Boston.com article. Essentially, he made the motions for calling a timeout when the team had none left, and did so with exaggerated gestures, to try to distract the kicker.

by Soulless Merchant of Fear (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 3:31pm

Future rule changes should be:

--Team rosters expanded to include a new position, a twelfth man on the field: the team ninja.

--To block field goals and extra points, teams will be allowed to throw a player in the air to block the ball. The alley-oop specialist would gain a privileged position in football. That would rock.

--Smoking will be allowed on the field of play. (Chewing tobacco will remain banned.)

by Jim A (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 4:21pm

OK, if a defender isn't allowed to call a time out his team doesn't have, what are some suggestions of things he can do legally to distract the kicker? Let your imagination run wild!

by JCD (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 4:41pm

To expand on the icing the kicker rule: The original rule was that you cannot call 2 consecutive timeouts to ice the kicker. So if you called one timeout and then tried to call a second one the officials were told to ignore you, just like they would if you had no time outs remaining.

The rule was changed midseason so that instead of the refs ignoring your timeout call, they call a penalty on you. I think also why Belicek was mad about the change was because before the season he informed the competition comitee about being able to do this, the comitee did nothing and then the rule was changed during the season sometime after Vrabel used it against Bill Polian's Colts.

by someone (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:04pm

Where has the Deuce McAllister thread gone? I think I can guess why it was deleted :)

by someone (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:06pm

Ah. magically returned.

by Aaron (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 5:08pm

It went to a crazy far off place called "Page 2" (link).

by Glenn (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:10pm

JCD....Think youre right about why we're mixing together both the consecutive timeouts rule and the Vrabel hand gestures in this thread. But I dont think Polian had anything to do with it. The rule was changed shortly after Vrabel did it against the Cards (see White Rose's link above).

by someone (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 6:17pm

No, for a time it wasn't on either page 1 or page 2. Never mind

by lagfish (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 8:04pm

RE: 12
I assume the ninja on ST would be replaced by the alley oop guy, special padding will be required.

by Chad (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 8:24pm

RE: 12 and 20

Not to commit heresy by mentioning other sports, but this reminds me of an analogy a friend of mine uses to describe the DH in baseball. Say you make the QB untouchable behind the line of scrimmage. Instead, you have a twelfth man on offense called the "sack back," or SB. He's not allowed to participate in the play, he just has to run around and not get tackled. If the SB gets tackled or crosses the line of scrimmage, it counts as a sack on the QB. So your QB gets to concentrate on nothing but getting the ball downfield, and you no longer have to worry about protecting him.

Can you tell my friend and I hate the DH rule?

by somebody (not verified) :: Sun, 08/07/2005 - 9:02pm

Vrabel is a pretty heads up, quick thinking guy. I suspect he will be taking brushci's mlb spot some time during the season.

by Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 08/08/2005 - 6:56pm

Here's the real question: What rule change will the NFL break out after the Colts whine this year? Any teams named after a region must spot the other team a touchdown?