Seahawks Insider Blog

A review of NFL rule changes for the 2013 season

I didn’t get a chance to write about this last week when NFL referees visited the VMAC, but wanted to pass along this information to you now.

Specifically, I thought this information is pertinent after the Seahawks were called for three personal foul penalties in the 31-10 win over San Diego last week.

Here’s what Pete Carroll had to say about the calls after the game.

“I thought the quarterback it, I don’t know – was that Charlie (Whitehurst) on that first hit? Yeah, we should’ve hit Charlie a little bit harder,” joked Carroll. “Then the late hit, the helmet-to-helmet shot. I couldn’t see that one either. We had three aggressive penalties that I thought they were quick to call. But what do I know, I’m just a ball coach.”

Craig Wrolstad, a field judge in the NFL since 2003, led the meeting.

Check out the video outlining the new rules below. It's the same video shown to players at every NFL training camp.

Rule change: A runner cannot initiate contact with the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box.In order to receive a flag for this offense, three things have to occur.1. The player has to line up his opponent.2. He must lower his head.3. He must deliver a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet to any part of his opponent’s body.Foul: Unnecessary roughness, 15-yard penalty.

Reasoning: Wrolstad said the league looked at every play from the second half of the 2012 season, and noted that only about five plays where a penalty would have been called. According to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, a league spokesperson said there were no violations of the new helmet-rule infraction through Week 1 exhibition play. Some have argued this rule could adversely affect Marshawn Lynch and his physical running style, but to be honest he uses his shoulder and stiff arm more than dipping his helmet when trying to fight off would-be tacklers in the open field.

Rule change: On field goal and extra-point attempts, the defense cannot have more than six players on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper when the ball is snapped. However, you can still overload the line of scrimmage in the punt game. Foul: Illegal formation, 5-yard penalty.

Reasoning: This rule was designed to protect players in a vulnerable position and susceptible to injury.

Rule change: Defensive players cannot push defensive linemen into the offensive formation on field goal or extra-point attempts. Also, the snapper is considered a defenseless player while he’s in the process of making a snap. Foul: Unnecessary roughness, 15-yard penalty.

Reasoning: This technique has led to player injuries.

Rule change: The peel back block is illegal on any area of the field of play. Peel back blocks below the waist used to be allowed within the tackle box, but that is no longer the case. In order for the block to be legal, the near shoulder must get completely across the front of the opponent’s body. Cut blocks on the man in front of you are still legal. And peel back blocks are still legal, as long as they are above the waist and you do not strike with the crown of the helmet, or make contact with an opponent’s helmet. Foul: Unnecessary roughness, 15-yard penalty, and potential discipline.

Reasoning: Player safety.

Rule change: All players are required to wear thigh and knee pads.Foul: If a player removed from the game returns without the proper equipment, it’s a 5-yard penalty for illegal substitution. A repeat violation will result in disqualification from the game.

Reasoning: Player safety. I wrote about this change earlier during training camp, which will affect Seattle players like Sidney Rice, Earl Thomas and Chris Clemons.

Rule change: Any loss of control by a thrower while he attempts to tuck the ball back in his body will be a fumble. Prior to this change, it was considered a pass until the thrower tucked the ball all the way to his body. Now, the forward passing motion ends once the thrower begins to tuck the ball.

Reasoning: Common sense. Ask any Raiders fan.

Rule change: A play can be reviewed even when a coach erroneously throws his challenge flag.Foul: If a coach challenges a scoring play, a turnover, a play that begin inside of two minutes at the end of the half or a game or during an overtime period, that team will automatically be charged a timeout, or be assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct if they do not have a timeout. Reasoning: Common sense, along with bailing out head coaches like Jim Schwartz who do not understand the rule book.