Ravens Are Not Winners Of NFL Rule Changes


The Ravens will not be happy about all of the NFL Rule Changes…

The NFL doesn’t quite get two things that are pivotally important to the game of professional football. First, football is a contact sport. Secondly more rules don’t fix an already cluttered and over stuffed rule book. The Ravens aren’t going to be the biggest fans of the competition committee right now. Not only did they ignore the Ravens proposed rule changes, they may have made it harder to play their style of football.

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There are two key fundamentals that the whole game is built on. The first is blocking, the second is tackling. The art of tackling has already diminished greatly, now blocking is taking a hit. According to reports, the NFL has now deemed all Chop Blocks illegal. This will have an impact on the Ravens zone run blocking scheme moving forward.

For those of you who are confused, let’s break down the Chop Block. A Chop Block is when an defensive player is engaged with an offensive lineman and another offensive lineman attacks the defenders legs. There used to be legal and illegal forms of the chop block. Now they are all forbidden.

The good news is that Cut Blocks are still legal as long as the defender being cut isn’t engaged with another offensive lineman. The bad news is that a defensive lineman (whose goal is either to be a space eater or take up more than one blocker) that gets double teamed can just do his best to hold on to both blockers. This creates a numbers advantage for the defense. While it can theoretically make all players safer in the trenches, it creates an advantage for the defense.

On a zone run to the outside, the offensive line is moving in unison in one direction. You get a double team or two, with one of the double teaming linemen chipping off to the second level of the defense and the running back often finds a cut back lane. Those cutback lanes are often opened by (you guessed it) Chop Blocks. Fans have often complained that the game was moving towards flag football, well this move takes even more physicality out of the game.

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Not all the NFL rule changes are bad ideas. The NFL also added on to the horse collar tackle rule; which is a sensible rule for player safety. The longer extra point is staying as well, which was more interesting. Ac cording to multiple reports, the Ravens had a couple of rule proposals that didn’t get picked up and John Harbaugh has had some heated sound bites about the rule changes.

Here are two quotes from John Harbaugh from Garrett Downing’s post on baltimoreravens.com:

"“Based on a few of the clips that they put in there by one team, that posting and cutting people’s knee, that could be cleaned up real simply by getting that team to stop doing that technique,”"

"“The other two types of runs in the game are basically power runs and lead runs,” Harbaugh said. “A power run is a down scheme and a kickout scheme. The ball is designed to go in one or two gaps. That draws everybody’s attention right to that gap. So if I’m a fullback or guard, I’m going to kickout Terrell Suggs as the outside linebacker. Terrell Suggs knows that, so he’s going to come crashing down there and smash that guard or fullback as hard as he can. That’s a collision."

I couldn’t agree with the Ravens coach any more. Like most player safety rules, there is always things that it cannot address. It is easy to sit there and say that if it improves player safety it is a good idea. But Harbaugh is right in suggesting that coaching players to do it right is better than eliminating part of the game. Football is a contact sport and the players are only getting bigger and more explosive.

The Ravens also wanted to increase what was reviewable. This is understandable considering that an officiating mistake cost the Ravens their 2015 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens also wanted to change the process of determining who is an eligible receiver and who isn’t. I think most Ravens fans understand why this has been such an issue for the Ravens.

Next: Why Joe Flacco Can Be So Polarizing

Because of the Ravens offensive scheme, the new spin on the Chop Block rule is a big deal. But we have a while until we have to worry about that. For now we are about to turn our attention to the Ravens and their efforts to improve the team in the 2016 NFL Draft. Tomorrow, the first portion of the Ebony Bird Big Board will be released. Mock drafts and evaluations of the Ravens biggest needs are coming your way, very soon. Keep it tuned into the Ebony Bird all offseason long.