When the league announced the new rules for 2018, I immediately thought about how they would affect the Raiders. If you are a Raiders fan, you stay wary of any rules, no matter how obscure. As a result of tucks and index cards, the rules have not always helped Oakland. In that case, here are the new rules and how they could affect the Raiders.
Lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet is a foul.
For many reasons, this rule feels like a bad idea. First, how will they properly enforce something that runs counter to how players have been taught for decades? For example, Marshawn Lynch runs with violence. If he lowers his shoulder, naturally his head follows. If he contacts a defender with his head accidentally, what happened? While the league’s attempt to make the game safer needs applause, this rule will ultimately cost teams a game, if called poorly. Meanwhile, Karl Joseph will need to curb that aggression in the secondary. While he does not always lower his head, striking much larger tight ends could cause him to alter his approach.
The spot of the next snap after a touchback on a free kick will now be the 25-yard line.
If you thought Jalen Richard would get the nod over DeAndre Washington due to his special teams’ abilities, this rule shifts that thinking. Over the past few years, the league slowly implemented changes that appear to de-emphasize the return game. In that case, a player with Richard’s skills may not find themselves with a spot.
The standard for a catch has changed so that a catch will be considered completed when the receiver gets control of the ball, gets two feet or another body part on the ground inbounds and completes a football move (third step, reach/extending for the line-to-gain, or having the ability to do so).
Considering the issues with drops that the team suffered over the past few years, anything relating to drops becomes automatically important. In addition, the key term is football move. Everyone remembers Mexico and Seth Roberts’ fumble. With the arrival of Edgar Bennett to coach wideouts, look for an increased dedication to ball security and transfer.
A designated member of the officiating department will be able to instruct on-field officials to disqualify a player for a flagrant non-football act when a foul for that is called on the play.
To paraphrase, a league officiating executive can contact the referee during a game and call for a player’s ejections. That seems a bit heavy handed. Not to mention, any extracurricular activities post-whistle will cease. In a division where the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos and Raiders all despise each other, this neuters the passion. That is not to say, players need to brawl after every whistle. Part of any rivalry is the heightened emotion. As a result, look for Jon Gruden to use tighter reins on his team during any divisional game.
Overall, these rules may appear to have the game’s best interest at heart. However, by either taking away excitement (returns) or style of play (helmet lowering), they will drastically affect how coaches and teams execute.