I AM BACK!!!!!

In the past, I tried to do too much with this site with way too little time. Yet, I have been feeling a need to write about the Lions lately. So I have decided to change the Detroit Lions Observer to a few basic things. Writing articles when I feel a need to, keeping track of their wins and losses, and I am still deciding if I will go through and update Ndamukong Suh's Sack List.
Ndamukong Suh's Sack List
Keep track of which quarterbacks Suh has faced and which ones he has taken down.

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3/25/10

Thoughts on NFL 2010 Rule Changes

In case you have not read or heard about it. The NFL has voted on implementing new rules. This happens every year, but for once I can see the reasoning behind them.

OVERTIME
In the past, the first team to score any points in overtime won the game. It used to be a pretty even split on whether it was the winner or the loser of the coin toss who won the game. Ever since the NFL moved the kickoffs from the 35 yard line to the 30 yard line, the teams that won the coin toss have won nearly 60% of the games. This has happened because more and more teams are starting with good field position after a kick-off. Too often, those teams only need to drive around 30 yards to be within field goal range.

So new rules have been implemented, but at this time they are only for the post season games. Regular season games will stick with the usual sudden death rules.

New OT Rules goes like this. The first team to receive the ball in overtime has a chance to win the game by scoring a touchdown. However, if they do anything other than score a touchdown, the other team has a chance to receive the ball and win the game. If the first team did not score a TD and after one possession each the game is still tied, then true sudden death rules come back into play.

These rule changes for OT are good because they actually force teams to play some decent football to win the game. If they do not play good enough, they still have a chance to lose to the other team who might actually play good football in overtime.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton is one coach who does not like the rule, but in my opinion it was a flawed reasoning. Payton does not like the possible scenario that the first team to receive the ball could drive down to the 2 yard line and have a 4th and 2. The chance of scoring a TD might only be about 40% but the field goal is a chip shot and almost unmissable. But what happens if you take that chip shot and you do miss? Then the other team drives and scores a field goal and wins. He doesn't want to deal with reporters second guessing him saying "why didn't you try for the TD?"

This is flawed for the simple reason that if the kicker is going to miss a field goal from the 2 yard line at that moment, he certainly would have missed from anywhere else on the field at that moment and if the new rule was in place, nothing would have changed. Payton's argument is an argument against traditional sudden death rules as well!

Though this rule is set for play-off games only, there is an expectation that it could be reviewed and expended to the regular season games as well for the upcoming season.

FAIR CATCH
If a punt returner muffs a fair catch, in the past he was allowed to be hit while he was still bobbling the ball. The new rule prohibits any interference from opposing teams players until after the ball touches the ground. This allows him a chance to secure the ball on a bobble before it actually hits the ground. This is only on fair catches.

This rule was obviously put in place to protect a player who is vulnerable. The reason a player calls for a fair catch in the first place is because the other team was not blocked well enough and he does not want a player to take his head off as soon as he touches the ball. So it only makes sense that just because he doesn't make a purely clean catch that he should get his head taken off. I think this is a good rule.

VULNERABLE PLAYER
In the past the NFL had implemented a rule protecting receivers when they were in vulnerable positions. When a receiver would jump up for the ball, he could not protect himself and so it was illegal for a defender to launch himself off of his feet and hit the receiver in the head when he was in a vulnerable position. Now this rule has been broadened to include any ball carrier. Not just receivers. So now, if a running back is stopped by a player holding his ankles for instance, that running back would be defenseless and so a tackler would not be allowed to launch himself and hit that running back in the head or neck area.

This rule might irk a few fans who hate all of the rules to protect players from injuries. I like this rule and I do believe in protecting vulnerable players. This is not a case of over doing things like they do with quarterbacks these days. Hit a QB high? Penalty and fine! Hit a quarterback low? Penalty and fine! It is like Steve Martin in "The Jerk" when he guesses weight in the carnival and he tells someone what they can win. "You can win anything to the left of the teddy bears and to the right of the cotton candy. Anything on this shelf, between those two things but not the ash trays or the belt buckles. Pretty much you can win any of this worthless crap within these two inches, but not the erasers." ... No I don't remember the exact things he said but that is the idea of it. That's what hitting the quarterbacks is like. "You can hit him anywhere above the middle of the thighs and anywhere below the head, but not in the neck. Basically you can hit him anywhere in the numbers on his jersey but you can't leave your feet while doing it."

Personally I hate all the rules protecting the quarterbacks. They aren't protecting them, they are swaddling them. Yet even so, as the game grows faster and bigger, it does become important to protect players from injuries. These are not the 5'10 200 lbs players with a good three layers of fat chasing each other around like in the leather helmet days. These guys are much bigger, much more covered in hard muscle and hitting you with a lot more speed. This causes many more injuries and they are often a lot more serious. SO when a player is in a defensible position, it only makes sense not to kill him.

UMPIRE
Due to the growing concerns of umpires being run over by players because they are stationed in the area of the linebackers, he will now be stationed behind the offensive backfield.

LOSS of HELMETS
When a ball carrier loses his helmet, the NFL feels he is too vulnerable to be injured when tackled. So they are now implementing the college rule stating that when a ball carrier loses his helmet, the play will be whistled dead and the ball will be placed at the point of forward momentum.

FIELD GOALS and EXTRA POINTS
In the past, the rules stated that a defensive player on the line of scrimmage who lines up across from the snapper, must have his helmet outside of the snappers shoulder pads. The new rules states that no player is allowed to line up on the line directly across from the snapper.

This is the one rule that worries me. If the defense has to leave that kind of hole in the middle, could this not open up for fake field goals and allow a sneak up the middle where there is no defender?

DEAD BALL FOUL
If there is a dead ball foul on the last play of the second quarter or the fourth quarter, there will be a 15 yard penalty issued to the kick-off to start the second half or overtime. In the past there was no penalty enforced but players were subject to fines from Roger Goodell.

LAST MINUTE REPLAYS
If the clock is stopped in the last minute of either half for officials to review a play, but the clock would not have stopped if there was no replay, then a ten second run off will be taken from the clock before play is resumed.

I have seen fans complain in forums on this one stating that it is wrong for the officials to stop play then penalize the teams with the ten second run off. This is not the case. If the play would not have been reviewed, the clock would have continued to tick and approximately ten seconds would go by before the teams got lined up again anyway. So it is not a case that they are penalizing teams for stopping the clock to review a play, but they are taking away the advantage teams were gaining by having the clock stopped.

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