It’s been a rough 24 hours for Tom Brady.
The NFL’s 32 owners held a virtual meeting on Wednesday and during that meeting they approved several rule changes for the 2021 season. Not only did they approve a rule that Brady hates, but they also closed a loophole in the rulebook that was exploited by Brady during the 2020 season.
Back on April 1, the Rams proposed a rule that called for teams to lose a down if they throw a second forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage or if they throw a pass from behind the line of scrimmage after the ball has already crossed the line of scrimmage. That might seem like a very specific rule to propose, but the Rams asked for a change because they got burned by Brady and and the rulebook back in Week 11.
On a third-and-10 play for the Buccaneers in the fourth quarter, a pass thrown by Brady was batted back to him and he responded by throwing another pass, which ended up being an 8-yard completion to Mike Evans.
The officials threw a flag for the double-pass, but it put the Rams in a difficult situation: If they accepted the penalty, it would only be for 5 yards, which means Brady and the Buccaneers offense would get to come back on the field for a third-and-15. If they declined the penalty, the second pass would COUNT and the Buccaneers would be facing a fourth-and-2. The Rams ended up declining the penalty and Brady got credited for an 8-yard pass.
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From the Rams’ point of view, there was nothing fair about this situation: The Buccaneers were either going to get another down (if penalty is accepted) or gain 8 yards (if penalty is declined), even though the penalty was on Brady. Under the new rule that was approved Wednesday, the play will result in a 5-yard penalty and a loss of down. If the new rule had been in place in November, the Rams would have accepted the penalty on Brady and the Buccaneers would have faced a fourth-and-15.
That rule proposed by the Rams was one of six that got approved on Wednesday and here’s a look at the other five:
- No more preseason OT. Overtime in the preseason has been eliminated, which is something we can probably all get behind.
- Onside kicks might be easier. For one year only, the NFL will establish a maximum number of players in the setup zone (That’s the area that’s between 10 and 25 yards from the kickoff spot). Under this rule, only nine players on the receiving team will be allowed in the setup zone during kickoffs, which will theoretically make it easier for the kicking team to recover an onside kick. Under the old rule, the receiving team could put 10 or 11 players in the setup zone. For more details on this change, be sure to click here.
- Replay official has more power. The replay official and designated members of the officiating department are now allowed to provide certain objective information to the on-field officials. This means that the replay official can now buzz down to fix a missed call. This only applies to objective calls like spotting the ball, overturning an incomplete pass or whether a player is down by contact.
- Penalties on extra points are now more consistent. A rule has been approved that ensures the enforcement of all accepted penalties committed by either team during successive try attempts. If a team gets penalized on an extra point, it can take the penalty at the 2-yard line OR 15-yard line. If it gets penalized again, the penalty has to be enforced from wherever the first penalty was enforced, so if it has a false start on a 2-point conversion, it could have that enforced at the 2- or 15-yard line. If it had a second false start, it no longer gets an option: it would be enforced from the spot of the first penalty
- NFL relaxes its rule for jersey numbers. The NFL also approved the rule to give players at certain positions expanded jersey number options. This rule will allow running backs, receivers, linebackers and defensive backs to wear No. 1-19. For a full look at all the number options each positional group will have this year, be sure to click here.
No one hates the new rule for jersey numbers more than Brady and if you want to know why he doesn’t like the ‘dumb’ rule, be sure to click here.
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