Skip to main content

Texans will be playing by new rules


Now, the team that wins the opening coin flip will have the option to defer its choice until the second half.

Every year during training camp, the NFL sends a crew of officials to each team to review rule changes and provide on-field insight to the players, coaches and the media.

The Texans will have to adjust to a handful of new rules this season, including the elimination of forceouts and five-yard facemask penalties.

Here is a breakdown of the changes and the issues discussed when NFL officials stopped in Houston:

1. Elimination of the forceout rule: In the past, if a receiver leapt to make a catch and was pushed out of bounds by an opponent, an official would have to decide whether or not that receiver would have landed inbounds had he not been pushed. Now, the receiver must come down with both feet inbounds, regardless of whether a defender pushes him or not. The only exception is when the receiver is held up and carried out of bounds by the defender while in possession of the ball. In that case, the catch is considered complete; however, most referees say they have seen very few plays where a receiver is carried out of bounds.

"This is about physically carrying a guy out of bounds," official Walt Anderson said. "It's so rare that you actually see that. It makes our job easier. It's a much easier rule to officiate. From the defensive side of the ball, the potential is there for the defense to use the sideline like an extra defender."

{QUOTE}2. Five-yard incidental facemask penalty gone: It will no longer be a penalty if a player grabs and releases a facemask. However, the 15-yard infraction for twisting, turning or pulling the facemask remains, and players that commit such acts could be subject to disciplinary measures. Also, officials are saying that they will be more inclined to call a 15-yarder on an offensive player who uses a stiff-arm move which interferes with the defender's facemask.

"We want to be consistent in what we call," Anderson said. "Some of those five-yarders weren't really affecting anything. The competition committee in the NFL thought this would be something to help us stay consistent."

3. Coin flip deferral: In a move that aligns the NFL with college football, the team that wins the opening coin flip will have the option to defer its choice until the second half. League officials anticipate that most teams will opt to defer and receive the kickoff, unless they are playing in extreme weather conditions.

4. Instant replay for kicking: Instant replay will apply to kicking, so officials can see whether a field goal or extra point or was good or not.

5. Defensive transmitters: The defensive team now is permitted to have one player on the field with a speaker in his helmet to receive the signals from the sidelines. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans has been designated as the Texan who wears such a speaker in his helmet. The team can pick a backup player to wear a helmet with a transmitter, but both helmets can't be on the field at the same time, nor can the helmets be used on special teams.

The backup player wearing the helmet must report to the umpire before entering the game, and failure to report to the umpire, or having two players with speakers in their helmet on the field at the same time, will result in a five-yard penalty for illegal substitution. The Texans are considering safety Will Demps and linebacker Kevin Bentley as backups to wear the helmet when Ryans is out of the game.

"There are going to be two helmets fitted with the microphones and they are going to have green dots on them, dots just like the quarterbacks," Anderson said. "The league is hiring personnel to keep track of the helmets in the bench area and monitor the helmets."

6. Direct snap from center is live: In the past, when a quarterback was under center and the ball was snapped but didn't touch any part of his body, it was called a false start and the play was dead. Now, a muffed hand-to-hand snap, or a snap untouched by the player in position receive the snap, is ruled a backward pass and remains live and can be recovered by the defense.

7. Muffed handoffs are fumbles: Prior to 2008, an illegal forward handoff was charged with a five-yard penalty and considered a forward pass. If the handoff was muffed and hit the ground, it was ruled an incomplete pass and the play was over. Now, all muffed handoffs are fumbles and the ball remains live. A muffed illegal forward handoff is sill a five-yard penalty, but now the opposing team has the ability to recover and advance the ball.

"By and large, the competition committee, as well as the commissioner (Roger Goodell) and the owners are really satisfied with the state of the game," Anderson said. "It's never been more popular. It's a great game for fans and TV, so they didn't really want to make many changes."

Texans specific: Also of interest to the Texans were the rules pertaining to cut blocking. The Texans plan to do a lot of cut blocking next season in their new zone blocking scheme, and people surrounding the team wanted to know the ins and outs of the move.

A cut block is when an offensive football player attempts to get a defensive player to the ground by diving at his feet and ankles rather than his upper body. When executed illegally, a cut block easily can injure a player.

Cut blocks can be legal in the free blocking zone, which is the six-yard by eight-yard zone centered on the football. Cut blocks are illegal in the open field. It also is illegal to cut block a player that is already engaged in a block with another player.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content