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  1. #1
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    Talking NFL emphasizes its intent to enforce illegal contact rule

    NFL emphasizes its intent to enforce illegal contact rule
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    MACOMB, Ill. - In his first go-around on the NFL's competition committee, Rams coach Mike Martz practically made illegal contact on pass plays a crusade during the offseason.

    Those efforts bore fruit when the NFL made illegal contact a "point of emphasis" for game officials at the league meetings last March. And this weekend at Western Illinois University, visiting game officials have started the "emphasizing."

    Referee Bernie Kukar, back judge Steve Freeman, side judge Tom Hill and head linesman Phil McKinnely arrived in Macomb on Thursday to work the joint practices and scrimmage between the Rams and the Chicago Bears.

    Among the points they are making to defensive players and coaches is that the illegal contact rule on pass defense will be more strictly enforced this year.

    "Points of emphasis simply are things that we want to pay a little closer attention to," said Kukar, who worked the Rams-New England Super Bowl following the 2001 season. "They're not changes in the rule - the rule has always been there."

    In the case of illegal contact, the league has decided - with much prodding from Martz - that its officials have been giving too much leeway to the defense. Too much leeway in terms of allowing contact more than 5 yards downfield. And too much leeway in determining what was - and what was not - incidental contact by defenders.

    "From an officiating standpoint, when you're 25 yards downfield and you're looking at this play happening ... it's pretty hard to determine where 5 yards are," Kukar said.

    That's one of the reasons, Kukar said, that game officials became more flexible over the years when trying to determine whether contact occurred 5 yards down field. Or 5 1/2. Or 6 yards.

    But not anymore.

    "All we're saying is pay more attention to that stuff," Kukar said. "Five yards is 5 yards, and any contact after 5 yards should be called."

    Also, there will be less flexibility in terms of incidental contact. Defensive players simply can't knock wide receivers off routes more than 5 yards down the field.

    Along those lines, Kukar said any pulling of a receiver's jersey by a defender now will be regarded as illegal contact. (Or holding.) No longer will game officials be asked to determine whether the jersey-grabbing actually restricted a receiver from running his route.

    There will be less gray area. At least that's the theory. But in the real world - on game day - will the illegal contact rule actually be more strictly enforced this season?

    "It's supposed to be," Martz said Friday. "So I would imagine it would be."

    Kukar had lunch with Martz on Friday in Macomb. On the practice field, Kukar and the three other game officials have been stressing this new point of emphasis with Rams and Bears players.

  2. #2
    Caramsfan Guest

    Re: NFL emphasizes its intent to enforce illegal contact rule

    Thanks for the reiteration. The game was becoming a farce in the defensive backfields around the League allowing teams with less skilled defensive backs to compete with the likes of Bruce and Holt who would otherwise run roughshod through the secondery.

    Watch for the new Rams big three of Holt, Bruce and Curtis with Looker as the new Ricky Proehl to have many more YAC when they aren't weighted down with a 190lb cornerback clinging to their Jersey with the tenacity of a tic.
    The only people who will whine about this are the same one's that said the RAMS should have "adjusted" to the non-enforcement of the rules. By the same token these teams will have to "adjust" to new emphasis put on enforcement.
    Bump and run isn't being outlawed as some big name writers have put in print. True bump and RUN means you tie up the receiver at the line with constant contact all the way to 5 yards then release and RUN with the receiver and either stay with him in man coverage or pass him off to the next leval if the receiver leaves your zone.

    Just my two cents.

    It will be nice to see Bruce and Holt not have to dress themselves after every pass pattern they run if the d-back is kind enough to return their jersey to them following the play.

  3. #3
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
    RAMMAN68 is offline Registered User
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    Re: NFL emphasizes its intent to enforce illegal contact rule

    It will be interesting to see just how much the league inforces this rule.
    I guess this means that you can count the Pats out of the playoffs this year. :tough:

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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