The NFL Rules Committee has proposed a new rule that limits ball carriers from lowering their heads to lead into contact. It is a safety rule designed to limit the amount of stress and trauma that a player will get from knocking heads into other players. As much as I value player safety, the proposed safety rule will alter the game in a profoundly negative way. It removes the ability of a running back – physical wide receivers as well – to get low, lower their head and move through potential tacklers.
Players like Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice, and Adrian Peterson are infamous for using their bodies to bully tacklers out of the way. Shorter running backs like MJD and Rice, as quick as they are, are largely reliant on using their smaller, denser bodies to push through defenders. Power running is an important part of the ground game and this move to limit lowering the head will further diminish the value of the running back.
Beyond diminishing the value of the running back, the proposed rule may not be as safe as intended. While it will limit using the crown of the helmet, it may cause ball carriers to take more shots to the jaw. I’m not the only one who thinks so too. Emmitt Smith made his voice heard during an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas saying, “If I’m a running back and I’m running into a linebacker, you’re telling me I have to keep my head up so he can take my chin off? You’ve absolutely lost your mind.”
If the NFL is aiming to force more passing in the NFL, then rules like this would be the way to do it. For those of us that love the way the game is played now and like a little splash of power running, this rule seems a little ridiculous. As Smith also said, “I disagree with the rule altogether. It doesn’t make any sense for that position. It sounds like it’s been made up by people who have never played the game of football.”
Couldn’t agree more Emmitt.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims