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NFL Passes Rule Changes Ahead of 2016 Season

Touchbacks moving out to the 25-yard line might not have the effect the NFL desires.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Today, the NFL passed several rule changes that were proposed by the Competition Committee, rules that will take effect in the 2016 season and that could have a significant impact on YOUR Washington Redskins.

Per Ian Rappoport, here is the list of rule changes that were approved:

  • The line of scrimmage for extra points has been permanently moved to the defensive team's 15-yard line, making permanent the 33-yard extra point that was tried last season.
  • Offensive and defensive playcallers can now communicate with players on the field directly regardless of whether they are on the field or in the booth.
  • All chop blocks are now illegal.
  • The horse collar rule has been expanded to include when a defensive player grabs a jersey at or above the name plate and pulls the ballcarrier to the ground.
  • It is now a delay of game penalty when a team tries to call a timeout when they aren't allowed to (such as if they are out of timeouts).
  • A play where an eligible receiver illegally touches a forward pass (after he was out of bounds and re-established himself inbounds) is no longer a five-yard penalty but rather a loss of down.
  • The multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul following a change of possession has been eliminated.
In addition to this, they have moved touchbacks to the 25-yard line and will now eject a player after two unsportsmanlike penalties in the same game.

I think I can live with all of these rule changes, but the one that will take some getting used for me is the touchback rule. Giving a team 25% of the field after scoring doesn't seem very wise. I think the league expects this will keep returners in the end zone, as they have to ask themselves if they can get past the 25-yard line if and when they leave the protective confines of said end zone. I feel like this will only encourage teams to chip the kicks up so they land in the corner of the field, ideally inside the 5-yard line. The Redskins have been trying this for years, with varying degrees of success failure.

Do you expect more or less returns in 2016 as a result of this rule?

Doesn't this also encourage coaches to put their top players out there on special teams? If you are going to drop a kickoff at the 1-yard line, you are counting on your coverage team to pin them inside the touchback line. So, in addition to encouraging teams to forego the easy kneel, the league also seems to be forcing coaches to put some of their top talent on the field for these plays. To be fair, some teams already do that (and it shows). Maybe now it becomes a referendum on your roster. So, if you have decent depth at positions like linebacker and defensive back, you might see teams employ a more aggressive kickoff play. If a team doesn't have that kind of depth, you might just spare your boys a run down the field and have the kicker put it in the stands.