Yesterday the competition committee voted to approve that hitting with the crown of the helmet will now be penalized. A player who is more than three yards downfield or outside of the tackle box that delivers a blow with the crown of his helmet will be penalized 15 yards. If an offensive and defensive player each lowers his head and uses the crown of the helmet to make contact, each will be penalized which just means offsetting penalties and replay the down.
This rule change will directly affect the Cowboys running game and DeMarco Murray’s running style. Murray is a powerful runner who when faced with the opportunity wants to punish defenders to get those extra yards. So, to go along with all the other concerns about the Cowboys, now Murray will have to change his running style as many other running backs in the NFL will. How will this new rule affect Murray’s running style? Time will tell, but the NFL is a contact sport and it’s just a natural instinct for a player to lower his head whether it’s just to protect themselves or to give out punishment when contact is about to happen. It’s going to be very difficult for players like Murray to just change the way they have always played the game.
This is now a new rule for the NFL that will cost teams 15 yards. It’s not just about getting a fine from the NFL the following week. This will affect players, which will affect their teams and could also affect games. Players will have to change the way they play the game. They will have to think more rather than trusting their natural instinct. Doing this just might cause more injuries. What are players supposed to do now when contact is about to happen? Are they just supposed to give up and quickly hit the ground?
“I think it affects every aspect of our game,” Smith said. “As a running back, you’ve been taught since you were a little kid to get behind your shoulder pads to protect yourself and lower your shoulder. The first thing you do is lower your shoulder but attached to your shoulder is your head. It’s not like you’re trying to go in there and really trying to deliver a blow but your head is part of protecting yourself, and it gets in the way a lot whether or not you’re trying to hit with the crown of your head or you’re trying to brush somebody off with your shoulder. Once your head gets in contact with another person’s head it’s just a natural part of the process of getting tackled. I think the rule itself is a little ridiculous. I don’t think the person that’s actually evaluating it appropriately is really thinking about the running back in terms of the other areas that he is going to expose himself to.”
I’m all for safety in sports, especially when it comes to concussions and the long-term effects. But let’s face it no matter what happens during a game a players brain is being knocked around, whether it’s inside a padded helmet or inside three layers of padded helmets. Contact is contact no matter how you measure it. Why not just develop a helmet with front and rear airbags that deploy once contact is made. Maybe have players were those inflatable helmets. Or better yet why not take helmets out of football altogether? They have been doing it in the sport of Rugby for years.
So besides all the concerns regarding the Cowboys offensive line, defensive line, safeties, coaching, new 4-3 defense, injuries and the salary cap hell the team is in. Now the running game of DeMarco Murray has to be added to that list. Let’s hope this is more over reaction than anything, but my guess is that this new hitting with the crown of the helmet rule is going to negatively affect many players and games come next season.