The most obvious of those to fans is one that will be an experiment for the first two preseason games only, where extra point attempts will be spotted at the 15-yard line, resulting in about a 33-yard range for those. The idea behind it, according to an explanation on a video produced by the league is to make that play “more competitive.”
The last two seasons, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh has connected on 20 of 21 field goal attempts between 30 and 39 yards, with his only miss being blocked in a Nov. 25, 2012 game at Chicago.
That rule change won’t be implemented during the 2014 regular season, and teams can still attempt a two-point conversion with the ball spotted at the 2-yard line.
A few rules will change for the regular season, including a alteration in blocking rules, timing of the game after a sack, instant replay and tighter restrictions on language.
“The whole idea with New York is to streamline the process, to make sure that the replay officials are looking at the most effective angles right off the bat,” referee Carl Cheffers said. “… Replay, there is a high expectation that we’re going to get the play right. There is a lot of pressure from the owners and competition committee to make sure that we keep the game played in a certain time limit and replay is one of those big variables where if we can cut a few seconds off a replay and get the desired result, that’s a win-win.”
There will be “zero tolerance” for unsportsmanlike conduct, said Dean Blandino, the NFL vice president of officiating.
“You guys all work at a company and I worked at a company and we don’t talk like that at my company and I’m sure you don’t talk like that at your company. The NFL is a big company and this is a workplace and the field is my workplace. It’s our workplace; it’s your workplace because you guys are down there, too,” Cheffers said. “It’s players, coaches, game administrators, it’s our workplace. So I think what the NFL is saying is that we’re a multi-billion-dollar brand and we have a workplace that we need to clean up, be more professional.
“It’s not one word that we’re looking for; it’s just overall respect for each other and appropriate language for a work environment. We understand it’s a game of intimidation, but there are other ways to intimidate your opponent other than language. We don’t want to throw a foul for this kind of stuff. We’re going to work hard to remind them that we’re working toward a professional environment. But at the same token, if it gets out of hand we have the ability to penalize it and we’ll be supported by the office.”
POINTS OF EMPHASIS
Officials have also been asked to watch for certain “points of emphasis” this year.
“The defender is entitled to his space, but if we see the defender move into the route that the receiver is running and there’s contact, that’s potentially illegal contact,” back judge Laird Hayes said.
“The tug of the jersey, they told us at the clinic they want us to call that every single time,” Hayes said. “If the quarterback is handing off or the quarterback is running the other way, don’t call it. But if it’s a pass play and that receiver is running out there and the defender grabs the jersey … they want it called.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.