NFL owners approved several rule changes that will impact the 2017 season at the Annual League Meetings which concluded Wednesday.
The ban on defensive players leaping on field goal or extra point attempts was approved unanimously. While the Texans did not have any such attempts this season, head coach Bill O'Brien said the team did practice the play and "a number of guys" could leap over the long snapper.
"I think it can be a dangerous play when the guy gets flipped in the air and you don't want any of those guys landing on their head," O'Brien said Tuesday. "But it is an exciting play so I know the fans probably like it. But we never really did it in a game."
O'Brien was in favor of a number of rules that promoted player safety. The NFL owners made permanent the rule that ejected a player flagged twice for unsportsmanlike conduct. Receivers are also given additional defenseless player protection while running a route.
"We've had some good decisions on different rules, whether it's the leaping over the center on the field goal PAT or some of the cut blocking rules or the defenseless receiver rules or hits to the quarterback," O'Brien said. "I think they are all – most of the rules that we have talked about have been under the umbrella of player safety, which I think is really important, trying to take the head out of the game as much as we can. I think one of the biggest things that we can do as a league is to really, and I know all of the coaches do this in our own communities, is to really encourage participation in football. Football is an incredible sport."
Shortening the overtime period to ten minutes in both preseason and regular season was tabled until the May owners' meeting. O'Brien believed that a shortened overtime would not lead to more ties, but instead encourage more aggressive play-calling.
"It might be a little different strategy knowing, hey, maybe some guys around here will try to onside kick it and gain a possession," O'Brien said. "Maybe you will score more things like strategically, but I think the big thing is to cut down on the number of plays so the guys can recover to play the next week."
The complete list of approved 2017 NFL playing rules is as follows:
2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the "leaper" block attempt on field goal and extra point plays.
8. By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls.
9. By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only.
- By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection.
- By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped.
- By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews.
- By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock.
- By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.