FLOWERY BRANCH – The defenses in the NFL can’t seem to catch a break.
Last season, there were 10 quarterbacks who passed for more than 4,000 yards. Folks are arriving at the conclusion that the NFL has turned into a wimpy passing league.
Some think that with the expansion of the definition of a defenseless player that the defenses don’t really stand a chance.
“This is becoming an offensive slanted league in terms of the rules and such,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
During their recent meeting with NFL official Jerome Boger to go over the rule changes for 2010, Smith, a former defensive coordinator, wanted to make sure his players knew exactly what a “defenseless player” is. Here’s a story on all of the key rule changes.
Mike Pereira, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating who’s joined Fox Sports as their NFL rules analyst, sees some positives and negatives with the new rules.
“There are significant player safety changes again,” Pereira said. “The defenseless receiver, it used to be that he was protected until he completed the catch. Now he’s protected even after he completes the catch and before he clearly has a chance to protect himself.
“So if he’s got two feet down, but has not really brought the ball in to a degree where he can anticipate the contact and protect himself, the rule states that the defender can’t launch, which means springing forward and leaving his feet and hit him in the head or neck area with his shoulder, forearm or helmet.”
As big and fast as the players are now, how are they going to make that determination if the receiver has had a chance to gather himself and is now ready to anticipate the hit?
“The message that’s trying to be sent there is that even after the receiver makes the catch, don’t leave your feet and head hunt,” Pereira said. “Hit him, but don’t launch and hit him the head.”
I know that Joe Zelenka, the Falcons long snapper, likes the new rules.
“They completely protected the center on field goal tries and extra points and added punts,” Pereira said. “The defender at the line of scrimmage can’t line up over him period. He has to completely line up clearly outside of the center’s body.”
Periera, who use to make appearances on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL radio, will be available to all of the Fox crews during the season for in-game commentary when a controversial call arises. He will also write on line and appear on radio.
Fox is billing Periera, who retired after the 2009 NFL season, as a multi-platform NFL rules analyst. He will be situated in his own control room at the FOX Network Center in Los Angeles, giving him visual access to all games played.
Also, NFL fans will have the opportunity to ask Pereira questions via live chat on FOXSports.com. Assisting him to monitor all Sunday game action will be a team of Los Angeles-area football referees, each assigned to a different game.