New Rules to Impact Pace and Quality of Game

Whether it was Tom Brady illuminating the tuck rule or Doug Flutie re-educating fans on the drop kick, it seems that something new is discovered in the rule book every season. In order to get a heads up for what lies ahead, the following is a breakdown of several noteworthy rule changes which were adopted by owners at the NFL Annual Meeting in March.

Instant replay has has been made a permanent rule, seemingly a foregone conclusion for quite some time. As a part of that rule, all plays ruled "down by contact" will be reviewable. Each review will be limited to 60 seconds.

Moreover, the play clock will now be reset to 25 seconds after all reviews prior to the two-minute warning and after successful reviews following the two-minute warning.

"We think instant replay has been an accepted part of our game now for a number of years. It's worked quite well," said Rich McKay, president and general manager of the Atlanta Falcons.

Also added was a penalty for spiking the ball at the end of a play, which will now result in a 5-yard penalty, unless that play is a touchdown. Additionally, the penalty for blocking an eligible receiver below the waist while his quarterback is in the pocket has been increased from 5 to 15 yards.

The owners tweaked a rule which calls for a 10-second runoff if the offense calls an excess timeout in the final two minutes of the half or the game. An old stipulation stating that the offense must be trailing or tied for this to be deemed a penalty has been removed. The defense maintains its option of declining the penalty.

Also, a pair of outdated rules was eliminated. Firstly, a 5-yard penalty can no longer be called against the defense due to excessive crowd noise. This penalty had not been called in years.

Secondly, it is no longer a penalty when a forward pass is unintentionally touched by an interior lineman. Such plays resulted in no advantage for the offense, and removal of the penalty should speed up the pace of the game.

Furthermore, two procedures regarding coaching movement were altered. Clubs now have the exclusive right to an assistant coach's contract through the second Tuesday after their season has ended or last playoff game, opposed to the third Tuesday as it was in the past.

Also, assistant coaches on Super Bowl teams may now interview for a second time with a club for its head-coaching position during the off-week after the championship game.

"We wanted to make sure that coaches on Super Bowl teams did not feel it was a disadvantage," McKay said.

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