Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: NFL 2018 rules changes/points of emphasis

Roger Goodell and the NFL are making changes. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The NFL’s Competition Committee is made up of a mix of personnel. The current members of the committee are as follows: Rich McKay (chairman) – president, Atlanta Falcons, John Mara – owner, New York Giants, Stephen Jones – owner, Dallas Cowboys, Mark Murphy – president, Green Bay Packers, Ozzie Newsome – general manager, Baltimore Ravens, Mike Tomlin – head coach, Pittsburgh Steelers, John Elway – general manager, Denver Broncos, and Sean Payton – head coach, New Orleans Saints. Two each of team owners, presidents, general managers, and head coaches make up the committee which is appointed by the commissioner.

Every year, they review different rules and make changes to them, or add new rules. Some rules are reviewed, but not changed, and highlighted as a point of emphasis. Here are the rules changes for this year: use of helmet, kickoff rules, the infamous catch rule, illegal batting or kicking of the ball, and a couple of other minor tweaks. The points of emphasis are as follows: sportsmanship, illegal contact or other acts downfield, protection of runners who give themselves up, protection of quarterbacks as usual, protection of snapper on PAT’s and field goals, gunners going out of bounds, and use of officials’ whistle. If you want to read in further detail, here’s a link to the NFL’s Operations page listing them and their explanations.

So far in preseason, the ones that have been complained about or scrutinized the most are the helmet rule, protection of the quarterback, and protection of the runner. There have been a ton of clips on Twitter of different calls that have been called into question. The helmet rule is so ambiguous, it will have a life of its own much like the catch rule (which still hasn’t been totally settled). Defenders have been called for penalties when the offensive player has initiated the lowering of the head contact! Protection of the quarterback has taken on a whole new level of pussification of football. Defenders are now asked to not land their full body weight on the quarterback when they take him to the ground. So you must perform a sound tackle, not use your helmet as a spear, and make sure the physics are appropriate. If that isn’t stupid enough, the fact that a quarterback can dive head first, not be hit in the head, and gain yards by diving calls the rule into question when a quarterback dives at the goal line. If he scrambles, dives head first at the goal line, and a defender hits him in the shoulder/neck area to prevent a score, will a flag be thrown?

I understand keeping the game safe. I’m all for it. I have relatives who make a living off this game and want to see them succeed for years to come. I have the privilege of writing about the game I love, so of course I want to see it succeed. But, there are some things I can’t get with. One of them is stripping some of the natural tendencies of defenders, ball carriers, and pass rushers. If we take away from natural instincts, are we truly seeing the product so many of us want to see? Or are we bowing to pressure and giving into outside influences? There are more important issues the league should be focusing in on (like the actual source of anthem protests and dealing with player behavior off the field), instead of minute tweaks and changes of rules to appease potential lawsuits. The NFL has a work to do on and off the field. They won’t please everybody, but they sure as hell don’t want to lose too many supporters while attempting to skirt hot button issues.

 

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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