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23.8.14 0242
The W - Football - A Desperately Needed Rule Change
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redsoxnation
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Since: 24.7.02

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 3.71
Considering the NFL has changed virtually every rule in order to benefit the offense and make games more exciting, why not go full out and make blocks in the back above the waist legal on kick returns? Punt and kick returns should be the most exciting play in the game, yet, a large amount end up being called backed. In addition to making the games even more exciting, it probably would knock 3-4 minutes off of game time due to lesser time needed to discuss the penalty and to then go 10 yards from the spot of the foul.



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Roy.
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Since: 25.2.04
From: Keystone State

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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.84
While I think it might make plays more exciting and (as you said) games shorter, a block in the back is so dangerous because the person being blocked doesn't see it coming. Even if it's above the waist, legs and ankles can be easily broken. Plus, you also get the neck injury factor, what with the head being snapped back pretty hard if you hit a guy in the center of the back. Getting blindsided like that hurts, badly.

I think the NFL makes these rules because of the injury factor. Look at the horse-collar tackle rule that was written in this past offseason. While the block in the back is annoying (especially when it happens like seven times on one punt return), it's too dangerous to ignore.
geemoney
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Since: 26.1.03
From: Naples, FL

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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.20
On one hand, I agree with RSN that the block-in-the-back call is annoying. On the other hand, I can see Roy's point of it being dangerous. And since safety is big with the NFL (head-on hits, horse-collar tackles, QB's being protected to the nth degree), I doubt this rule will get changed.



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Since: 10.2.03

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#4 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.11
    Originally posted by redsoxnation
    Considering the NFL has changed virtually every rule in order to benefit the offense and make games more exciting, why not go full out and make blocks in the back above the waist legal on kick returns?


Peter King (partially facetiously, to be sure) advocates punt and kick return units to actually NOT EVEN touch the opponents in an effort to block them in this week's MMQB column. (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

    Originally posted by Peter King of SI
    I think, if I were a special-teams coach, I'd instruct my players to literally NOT TOUCH a player on a punt-return play or a kickoff-return play. Someone out there do the math. You get pushed back 10 yards for those flags. You're better off letting those defenders run free at the return man and having the kick-returner get what he can get, or having the punt-returner call more fair catches. The 10-yard penalty is just too damaging. Why can't those blockers learn to never touch a guy from the side?


While that's clearly exaggeration, I agree that the constant block-in-the-back penalties have gotten out of hand. They were inconsistently called (witness the record-breaking return by Dante Hall two years ago that featured THREE blocks in the back for a key punt return against Denver), but definitely the NFL has been cracking down on it.

I think what needs to be done is for the NFL to "relax" the rule somewhat, akin to what is done with holding now (as the cliche goes, they can call holding on every play). Now, you basically see pretty blatant tackles in pass blocking or the edge hold on run plays, where the defender cannot extricate himself from the blocker's grasp.

We are seeing too many blocks in the back called that are away from the flow of the return, especially on punts. I'd like to see the punt return reemerge as a weapon in the NFL, it is definitely one of the most exciting plays when the returner hits the crease and gets moving.





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