98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
The National Football League has approved tweaks to multiple rules, including one that the New England Patriots found themselves on both sides of last season, ahead of the 2020 season.
As suggested by the league’s Competition Committee, teams will no longer be permitted to manipulate the game clock by committing multiple (intentional) dead-ball fouls to drain a running clock. Bill Belichick and the Patriots exposed this loophole in the league rule book in a regular-season win over the Jets before the Titans’ Mike Vrabel used it against Belichick in their wild card round head-to-head. It was fun while it lasted (except that it wasn’t fun at all).
The league also expanded defenseless player protection to punts and kick returns, as suggested by the Competition Committee. This expansion is designed to help further protect players who are in possession of the ball but not afforded the proper time to dodge a would-be tackler.
The NFL also passed a rule amendment suggested by the Philadelphia Eagles. The change to Rule 15, Section 2 will make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by any foul.
In addition to these playing rule changes, the league office also expanded each team’s injured reserve with designation to return list from two to three.
One motion that did not pass, however, was an onside kick tweak that would’ve allowed teams to try and convert a 4th-and-15 to get the ball back. It’s hard not to think that the league may revisit this idea, which seemingly had a solid amount of traction prior to getting shot down for this upcoming season, once again in the near future.