NFL Owners Meeting Places a Spotlight on Defensive Strategies

The NFL is considering rule changes to enhance player safety, with particular attention to eliminating the hip-drop tackle. League executive Jeff Miller revealed that this tackling technique increases the risk of injury by a significant 25 times compared to standard tackles. The move to address the hip-drop tackle stems from an incident involving Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith, who sustained an injury during a game against the Giants in Week 4. Miller stated during league meetings that this tackling method needs defining and elimination, highlighting that an injury linked to the hip-drop occurs almost every week during the regular season.

The hip-drop tackle is seen as a cousin to the horse-collar tackle, which was banned several years ago due to the increased risk of injury. Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee, explained that the hip-drop tackle involves the defender encircling the runner and then swinging their weight, falling on the side of the runner’s leg, usually the ankle or knee, rendering the runner defenseless.

The NFL is collecting data and conducting a study on the hip-drop tackle to make an informed decision about its fate. While defensive players may not be pleased with the potential ban, McKay stressed that the league’s primary concern is to mitigate unreasonable injury risks for players.

Another topic of discussion is the “tush push,” a maneuver famously employed by the Philadelphia Eagles, particularly successful under coach Nick Sirianni and QB Jalen Hurts. This play has been legal in the NFL since 2005 when the league removed the prohibition against pushing offensive players. Although there was talk about potentially banning the “tush push” after the previous season, no rule was formulated for a vote to prohibit it.

Head coaching interviews are facing a delay as owners voted to reschedule in-person interviews one week after all divisional playoff games conclude. The aim is to slow down the hiring process and promote diverse hiring, with the hope of achieving more inclusive and diverse head coach positions in the NFL.

Regarding international games, the NFL is exploring the possibility of hosting a game in Spain or Brazil next season, given the size of the fan base and market in these countries. However, there’s no definite timeline for the decision on a fourth international game for 2024, with two games set for London and one for Germany.

The NFL has reported a seven-year low in training camp concussions, primarily due to the use of Guardian caps. These protective headgear reduced concussions by 46% among players at certain positions, such as offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, running backs, and linebackers. In contrast, positions that didn’t use them saw a 50% increase in concussions. The NFL is considering the expansion of Guardian cap usage to other positions and is exploring innovations in helmet design to further improve player safety based on what they’ve learned from the Guardian cap initiative.

Reference:

https://www.theintelligencer.net/sports/top-sports/2023/10/defense-under-new-scrutiny-in-nfl-owners-meeting/

https://www.tennesseetitans.com/news/from-the-nfl-owners-meetings-approved-2023-playing-rules-bylaws-and-resolutions

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