Despite a lockout, the NFL competition committee still found time to meet and discuss rule changes for 2011. Here's the gist of their proposals:
- The continued crackdown on illegal hits. They plan to suspend more players and levy more fines than before. This includes hits on QBs in the act of throwing, receivers trying to catch the ball, and receivers throwing blind-side blocks (aka the Hines Ward Rule), among other things. Expect much wailing and gnashing of the teeth from some people over the "wussyfying" of the game, followed by other people expressing sincere concern for the players' long-term safety, followed by more people reminding us that it's a violent game and the players chose this career path, followed by going around in circles repeating your arguments until everybody gets bored and finds something else to do.
- They also discussed moving the kickoff line up to the 35 yard line and the touchback on kickoffs up to the 25. This is presumably to encourage more touchbacks and thus less dangerous hits on special teams. Will Herring is going to be really bored next year.
- The wedge is going away for good. They reduced it down to two players in 2009, so the outlawing was an inevitability. I'm saddened by this, since the wedge was fun to watch.
- All scoring plays are now reviewable, and can be ordered by the replay official rather than a coach's challenge. So it will be similar to many college football replay rules. This is good news.
- No "Calvin Johnson Rule", referring to the infamous incident in Week 1 of 2010. The committee still doesn't think that Megatron made a catch. This doesn't make much sense.
Nothing major here that we didn't already see coming. The crackdown on big hits will re-ignite many of the same debates we had in 2010, and I'm not interested in re-hashing those. The only thing I hope for is that there's actually a 2011 season to implement these rule changes.