NFL Rule Changes 2018

Written by Ron Newman

The NFL has proposed new rule changes for the upcoming 2018 season. Some of these rule changes seem to have solved problems and answered questions that we have all had for a few years. Other changes seem to have caused newer problems and raised more questions. Let’s break down some of the popular ones.

Number one, the catch rule. This one, as we all know, has been the most controversial rule for quite some time. In my opinion…Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, and Jesse James all successfully caught the ball. As of today, those “incompletions” would be called completions and if they were correctly (in my opinion) called than the history of the NFL that we know would not exist.

Imagine if the Cowboys, instead of the Packers, went on to play the Seahawks in the NFC Championship in 2014/15? How about if the Steelers beat the Patriots last year and then the Steelers are the number 1 seed in the AFC for the playoffs?

The old rule stated that a player must catch the ball and “survive the ground” (maintain possession throughout the process of catching the ball and hitting the ground).

The new rule defines a catch with 3 simple questions. Did the player have secure possession of the ball after catching it? Was possession of the ball established inbounds? Did the player perform a football move such as taking a step, tucking the ball away, or reaching out and extending the ball forward? If the answer to all 3 questions is yes, then it is a complete catch. Simple enough, problem solved.

Number two, lowering/targeting the head. This rule was one of the more controversial rules over the past few years because it really only applied to defensive players. Offensive players had every right to lower their head and either run through someone or instigate helmet-to-helmet contact and force the officials to penalize the defense. After the Ryan Shazier injury I think everyone saw a change coming.

The old rule said that a defensive player cannot make any contact with the helmet of the opposing quarterback, they cannot target an offensive players head, and they cannot hit an offensive player with helmet-to-helmet contact.

The new rule states that any player, offense or defense, who lowers their helmet to make contact with an opponent will warrant a 15 yard penalty for their team and may also be ejected from the game. This new rule change is already stirring up controversy and questions. I agree with the idea that defensive players should be protected from offensive players just as much as the other way around.

I completely disagree with the ejection part of the new rule. Players are taught to keep their head up from a youth level so if professional players can’t do it in a game then they deserve to be penalized and maybe even fined. In a game that moves so fast, there will undoubtedly be times where people will disagree what the appropriate call should be.

Rule number three, league officials in the New York headquarters and can force an ejection of a player from a game even if the in-game officials did not make the call. This is a completely new concept. As long as the New York officials don’t abuse the power, I actually like this rule. There have been plenty of times where a player should have been ejected and everyone watching on tv knew it but apparently the in-game officials didn’t think so (for example, Rob Gronkowski and JuJu Smith-Schuster last season).

Finally, rule number 4 says that teams can now trade players that are placed on injured reserve. This is also a new concept. Previously, injured players could not be dealt and teams had to just sit back and wait. This new rule opens up a lot of interesting scenarios especially because trades have been on the rise the past few years.

Picture this scenario…a team starts the season 1-5 and loses a player to an injury early in the year. That player will return before the end of the regular season, but why? The team clearly isn’t making the postseason. If a team contending for a championship wants to fill a hole to secure their playoff run they can now trade for that injured player. The 1-5 team can build towards the future without cashing it in completely on the current season (since the injured player was not going to be able to contribute enough to make a difference anyway) and the contending team will be stronger going into the playoffs. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

The game of football is always changing. And it seems like every year we are introduced to new players, new coaches, new playing/coaching styles, new uniforms/logos, new rules, etc. But there is one constant that always remains amongst the fans….we love this game.

About the author

Ron Newman