The days of the punishing physical style running back may soon be coming to end. Pro Football Talk is reporting that the NFL is considering a rules change that would penalize ball carriers for lowering their heads and initiating contact with tacklers.
Members of the NFL’s Competition Committee revealed today that they want to see a new rule that would make it a personal foul for either a runner or a tackler to engage in head-first contact with the crown of the helmet when running into each other outside the tackle box.
“This is a pure and simple player safety rule,” NFL Competition Committee Chair Rich McKay said. “We really think the time has come where we need to address the situation in space where a runner or a tackler has a choice of how to approach his opponent.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the Competition Committee, said he believes coaches will be able to properly instruct their players in how to adjust to this rule.
“The ballcarrier is still going to be permitted to lower his shoulder, and the head is also going to come down to protect the football,” Fisher said. “We’re not taking that part of the run out of the game. What we’re saying is, in space, one-on-one, head-up, we’re not going to allow you to load up and use the crown of your helmet. It’s an obvious thing.”
I was nervous at first about such a rule change. As long as players are taught the proper way to continue to lower their shoulders going through the hole, or squaring up one on one with a defender, I’m fine with the change.
I always preach for tacklers and ball carriers to keep their heads up. It’s definitely now imperative that the league teach running backs to properly lower their shoulders, or you’ll have plenty of crumbled, injured ball carriers to worry about.