Tha Sports Junkies 101

NFL Rule Changes for 2016

NFL Rule Changes Ramon Sanchez via


Every season the NFL makes rule changes in order to improve the safety of the game, and here is what you need to know.

The NFL has put player health and safety at the forefront with the following rule changes for the 2016 season.

Chop Block: All chop blocks are now illegal. A chop block is two-man high-low block in which a defensive player is engaged above the waist by one offensive player and blocked at the thigh or below by a second offensive player. A chop block is a foul whether it occurs on a running play, a pass play or a kicking play.

If it is clear that the defensive player is initiating the contact above the waist, or that the offensive player is trying to slip or escape, then the block is legal.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct Fouls: A player that is penalized twice in the same game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls will be automatically disqualified. These types of fouls include:

  • Throwing a punch or kick without making conduct
  • Use of abusive or threatening language toward an opponent
  • Any act that constitutes taunting

Horse Collar: This horse collar rule has been included in the changes for this season. It will be illegal to grab the back or side of the jersey at the name plate and pull the runner toward the ground. The runner does not have to be pulled to the ground, if his knees are buckled by the action then it is a foul.

This rule does not apply to the quarterback in the pocket or a runner in the tackle box, but once the runner leaves the tackle box or the quarterback leaves the pocket the rule is back in effect.

Touchbacks: For the 2016 season, after a touchback resulting from a kickoff or safety kick, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line.

There will also be a “point of emphasis” on several existing rules.

The quarterback in the pocket in a passing posture is protected from forcible contact to the knee area or below. Low hits on the quarterback will result in a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer as well as potential discipline.

Sliding runners will be be given added protection throughout the 2016 season. A runner gains maximum protection when he slides feet first and before the defensive contact is imminent. If the defensive contact is imminent, then he loses protection from hits to the body, but the defender must still avoid forcible contact to the neck and head area.

A defender may not lower his head and Use the crown of his helmet to hit and make forcible contact to any part of the runner’s body.

Pre-snap movement on the offensive line will be emphasized with the center in relation to his stance and ball movement. Any quick or abrupt movement that is not part of the ball will result in a five-yard penalty for a false start, but if the movement is smooth and deliberate then it will be deemed legal. Game officials will work with centers and long snappers before each game to establish acceptable standards.

During kickoff and punt returns, blindside blocks will also include blocks to the neck or head area when the blocker is moving in the direction of his own end line. These blocks are dangerous and will lead to a 15-yard penalty and potential discipline.