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How the NFL’s new rules could affect the Eagles

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By: John Stolnis

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Gone are the old kickoffs we used to know.

At their winter meetings this week, the NFL has announced a series of new rules that will change certain aspects of the game starting this season.

And yes, those changes will affect your Philadelphia Eagles.

Kickoff Change

The change that casual fans will notice immediately is a new kickoff, designed to eliminate the overabundance of touchbacks while at the same time mitigating injury concerns. It is among the most significant changes to the basic play of the game the league has ever seen.

The new rule will see the ball kicked from a team’s 35-yard line. By rule, 10 players on the kicking team and at least 9 on the receiving team will line up just five yards apart from one another, but no one may run until one of the two kick returners catch the ball. If a ball is kicked into the end zone for a touchback, the ball will be placed at the receiving team’s 30 yard line. If the ball is kicked between the 20 yard line and the goal line, the returners must field the ball and return it. If the ball goes out of bounds or fails to reach the 20, it will be placed at the receiving team’s 40 yard line.

Here’s what it would look like.

Last year, 83.3% of kickoffs were touchbacks, up from 65.8% in 2022, becoming a completely useless waste of time for everyone involved. This rule would encourage both the kicking team and the receiving team to return kicks, bringing excitement back into the game while at the same time limiting the kinds of collisions that have resulted in serious injury.

Of note for Eagles fans, the team this off-season has signed two players with extensive kick return experience: Isaiah Rodgers and Parris Campbell.

The team also signed linebackers Zack Baun and Oren Burks this off-season in part to bolster their special teams, which were much improved a year ago under coordinator Michael Clay. They’ll need to be just as good with the new kickoff rule in place in 2024.

New Replay Usage

Instant replay can now be used in two additional ways.

First, to determine if a quarterback was down or out of bounds before throwing a pass.

Second, to determine if the game clock expired before the ball was snapped.

The second rule does not include whether the play clock expired before the ball was snapped, which seems to be a bigger problem around the NFL.

Why the NFL can’t be bothered to get its arms around the officials’ lackadaisical nature of adhering to the play clock is a mystery we never get to bottom of.

The Hip Drop Tackle Banned (Kinda)

A rule that seems likely to be controversial this year, the league has mandated no more hip-drop tackles. What are hip drop tackles? Glad you asked.

They occur when a tackler grabs a ballcarrier around the waist and then leaves the ground with both feet to drag their full weight down on the player. The tackler sometimes then lands on the back of the ballcarrier’s legs, resulting in some significant injuries over the last few years. League officials say this type of tackle results in 20 times more injuries than other kinds of tackles.

However, it appears this rule is only in place for “certain” types of hip-drop tackles.

Yep. Clear as mud, and most players believe this new rule will be nearly impossible to accurately enforce. Eagles cornerback Darius Slay isn’t a fan.

Surprisingly, the Eagles’ defense only was responsible for 98 missed tackles last season, middle-of-the-pack in the NFL. But for a team that is not filled with robust tacklers, this new rule could result in more hair-pulling by Birds fans this season.

Other Changes

Two other rules of note:

The Competition Committee will now allow for major penalties to be assessed on the offense on plays in which the offense turns the ball over, even if that penalty occurred before the turnover. Historically, those types of penalties had been ignored by officials.

Also, teams will now be given a third challenge if either of their first two challenges are successful. Previously, coaches had to be successful in both challenges in order to secure a third.

Originally posted on Bleeding Green Nation