The Packers have not even played a pre-season game, but Mike McCarthy and his coaches are already focusing on the new helmet rule. The rule was approved by the teams in March. The National Football League has to remove head hits from its game as much as it can.
The states that it is a penalty if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opposing player. Making contact to an opponent with the helmet is not limited to the head or neck area, the rule includes lowering the head and initiating contact to the opposing players torso, hips and lower body with the helmet.
When the penalty is called it will be a 15 yarder and automatic first down. The player at fault could possibly be injected from the game. There are several standards that officiating crew will use to determine if the player in violation of the rule will be ejected. Per the NFL those standards are as follows:
- The violating player lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the helmet.
- When there is an unobstructed path to the opponent and the violating player leads with his helmet.
- When the contact was clearly avoidable and the violating player had other options in tackling the opponent.
NFL players and coaches have spent much of the offseason reviewing and preparing for the new helmet rule changes. In Green Bay, new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his coaching staff have placed an emphasis on proper tackling in order to adjust to the new helmet rules. NFL officials have been at training camp working with the players and answering any questions about the rule. The officiating crew will also be at the Packers Family Night practice for additional instruction.
The NFL established an educational series called ‘NFL way to play’ to teach coaches and players about proper tackling techniques and the use of the helmet to protect all players from unnecessary risk. In this series, the league is putting an emphasis on stance, posture, and technique. They are stressing that players should tackle with their knees bent, pads down, hands first, and head up and out of the way.
Several coaches volunteered to create position specific videos to assist in educating other coaches and players on position based applications to the new helmet rule. Each video provides coaching points of emphasis for the player to execute proper technique.
- Los Angeles Chargers Head Coach, Anthony Lynn discusses proper Ball Carriers technique, video.
- Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach, Doug Marrone discusses proper Offensive Line technique, video.
- Atlanta Falcons Head Coach, Dan Quinn discusses proper Defensive Line technique, video.
- Tennessee Titans Head Coach, Mike Vrabel discusses proper Linebacker technique, video.
- New York Jets Head Coach, Todd Bowles discusses proper Defensive Backs technique, video.
The videos provided by the league are clear in what the proper technique should be. They want players keeping their faces up when making contact with an opposing player and hit with their shoulders, hand or forearms first. Basically teaching players to see what you are hitting and making contact with your helmet is prohibited.
Yes, there will be questionable calls on the field with this new rule like there are with offensive holding and pass interference. Taking the helmet out of the game is something that the league needed to do to make the game safer.
Anthony Haag is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He has been a Packers fan since the day he was born and truly bleeds green and gold. He makes annual visits to Lambeau Field and has attended his fair share of games. You can follow Anthony on Twitter at @anthony_haag