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2024 NFL rule changes and how it impacts the Detroit Lions

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By: John Whiticar

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has made another wave of rule changes that will take affect in 2024. Let’s break down the changes and how it impacts the Lions.

Tinkering with the NFL rulebook is an annual tradition for the league, and the 2024 saw a fair number of changes, many of which were proposed by the Detroit Lions or had affected them in some way the year prior.

Because the wording of such a memo can be confusing at times, let’s break down all the changes that have been approved and highlight a few reasons why they were made in the first place.

2024 Approved Playing Rules Summary

By Detroit; amends Rule 15, Section 1, Article 1, to protect a club’s ability to challenge a third ruling following one successful challenge.
The first of Detroit’s accepted proposals, teams will now earn a third challenge if they win one of their two prior challenges. Previously, a team needed to win both of their challenges to be eligible for the third. This proposal was barely accepted after it was rejected the year before.

By Competition Committee; amends Rule 14, Section 5, Article 2, to allow for an enforcement of a major foul by the offense prior to a change of possession in a situation where there are fouls by both teams.
The wording on this rule is a bit unclear at first, but in layman’s terms, an offense can still be assessed a major foul (such as unnecessary roughness) on a turnover in which the defense also commits a penalty—previously, the offensive penalty would not be applied. For example, Packers offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins commits a facemask penalty on Aidan Hutchinson. Jordan Love throws an interception to Brian Branch. On the Branch interception return, Alex Anzalone commits a holding penalty. In the past, the Jenkins penalty was not applied to the end of the return.

By Competition Committee; amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 3, to include a ruling of a passer down by contact or out of bounds before throwing a pass as a reviewable play.
A fairly straightforward change on paper, but there’s a twist. The confusing part is that the reverse of this rule was already in effect. The replay official could change a completed pass to down by contact or out of bounds—that already existed in the rulebook. For example, Baker Mayfield threw an incompletion against the Lions in the Wild Card game, but his leg was actually down—this could have been challenged and overturned.

However, the replay officials were unable to overturn a down by contact ruling into a pass play. For example, if Jared Goff threw a 40-yard pass but was incorrectly ruled down on the play by the on-field officials, it would not have been reviewable. This has been changed for 2024, although yards gained after the catch will not be granted.

Of note, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero tweeted on Monday that the NFL had expanded the replay official’s jurisdiction to include overturning roughing the passer and intentional grounding. The Lions were victimized by such a play last season, when the officials made the blatantly incorrect ruling on a Justin Fields pass attempt. However, these changes were not included in the official NFL memo, so whether or not these were actually accepted and implemented is somewhat unclear.

By Competition Committee; amends Rule 15, Section 3, Article 9, to allow a replay review when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that the game clock expired before any snap.
Although this rule was not proposed by the Lions, they were a victim of its absence last season. The expiration of the clock was not a reviewable part of the play, and the Lions got burnt by the Packers last season as a result. This change will make the game clock expiring reviewable—however, this seemingly does not apply to the play clock, meaning missed delay of game penalties would remain missed.

By Competition Committee; amends Rule 12, Section 2, to eliminate a potentially dangerous tackling technique.
This is in reference to the controversial hip-drop tackle, specifically the “swivel hip-drop” as the NFL is calling it. The NFL is trying to eliminate a form of tackling they view as unsafe—the question is how well they can officiate this in-game.

By Competition Committee; for one year only, amends Rule 6, to create a new form of a free kick play that is designed to: (1) resemble a typical scrimmage play by aligning players on both teams closer together and restricting movement to reduce space and speed; and (2) promote more returns. Permits the Replay Official automatically review whether a free kick legally touched the ground or a receiving team player in the landing zone.
This is the new kickoff format that involves both teams lined up downfield prior to receiving the kick, instead of sprinting downfield, thus reducing the number of high-speed collisions. This is an adaptation of the XFL’s kickoff rule, and it has people like Dan Campbell and Dave Fipp excited about its potential.

2024 Approved Bylaws Summary

By Detroit; amends Article XVII, Section 17.16 (C) of the Constitution & Bylaws, to provide clubs with an unlimited number of designated for return transactions in the postseason.
Detroit’s second approved change, teams are now allowed to bring back an unlimited number of players off of the Injured Reserve during the postseason. In the regular season, only eight players can be designated to return over the course 18 weeks and the playoffs combined.

By Pittsburgh; amends Article XVI, Section 16.6 of the Constitution & Bylaws, to move the trading deadline to the Tuesday after Week 9 games.
The trade deadline gets moved from after Week 8 to after Week 9. The Lions had proposed a similar change, except their proposed deadline was after Week 10.

By Competition Committee; amends Article XVII, Section 17.16(C), to permit each club to place a maximum of two players who are placed on an applicable Reserve List on the business day of the final roster reduction to be designated for return. Such players will immediately count as two of the club’s total designations.
Previously, a player put on the Injured Reserve prior to cutdown day (when the roster is trimmed from 90 players down to 53) was ineligible to return for the entire season. For example, Nate Sudfeld was placed on Injured Reserve after tearing his ACL in preseason. He was thereby ineligible to return at all during the 2023 season (not that he would have with such an injury). Julian Okwara, meanwhile, was placed on the Injured Reserve the day after cuts were made, meaning he was able to return after his stint.

With the new rule, a team can place up to two players on the Injured Reserve ahead of cuts and still have them return for the season. This is useful to avoid the roster juggling that typically happens when players with short-term preseason injuries are placed on the Injured Reserve.

As a side note, the Lions essentially proposed this very same change, but they were not credited on the memo—perhaps because the Competition Committee changed the ruling to two players instead of outright removing the requirement like Detroit had proposed.

By Competition Committee; amends Article XVII, Section 17.3, to expand the Standard Elevation rules to permit clubs to elevate a bona fide Quarterback an unlimited number of times from its practice squad to its Active List to be its Emergency Third Quarterback.
Building off of Detroit’s proposal from last year, the emergency third string quarterback (a player that was dressed but did not count towards the game day roster limit) can now be from the practice squad. Last year, the third quarterback had to be on the active roster, meaning a team needed to carry three quarterbacks. That is no longer the case, offering some additional roster flexibility—and some motivation to keep a quarterback on the practice squad.

2024 Approved Resolutions Summary

By Buffalo; to make the injury reporting rules for players who do not travel with their clubs to games away from their home city competitively fairer.
If an injured player is not traveling with their team for a road game, they will need to be ruled out prior to the team’s departure.

By Jacksonville; expands the 2023 preseason trial of providing a specific Hawk-Eye feed in the coaches booths for the 2024 preseason with full implementation for the 2025 season.
Hawk-Eye is the camera system used by NFL officials to view multiple camera angles with exact synchronicity—each camera captures and shows the exact same moment, making for quicker decisions and improved accuracy. This technology is becoming available for coaches, and 2024 marks the second year of the trial before the full launch in 2025.

Originally posted on Pride Of Detroit