NFL owners approved eight rule changes ahead of the 2017 season at the annual meeting, and one polarizing new rule will make blocked kicks even more of a rarity. Starting in 2017, defensive players will not be allowed to leap over the line of scrimmage — and the change isn't exactly popular with some players around the league.
On Wednesday's episode of "Undisputed," Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said he doesn't think the rule change was really about improving player safety.
Kam Chancellor on the rule change: 'No Fun League'
Michael Bennett: The change takes away a potential turning point in games
“First of all, I think there’s a lot of people governed by people who have never done the job before. You start with the government, people in the military, this list could go on.
I think the rule change … I don’t see the point. I think a lot of coaches hate that there were people jumping over and blocking the field goals, because those points — when people block field goals, those are the turning points in a lot of games.
Most of the NFL games are decided by one point, unless you’re playing the Jaguars or something, then it’s decided by 50. The one point, blocking that, it makes a big difference.”
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bennett: Losing a game on a blocked kick was tough for owners to swallow
“The greatest teams — the Patriots were doing it, the Pittsburgh Steelers [are] doing it, you see us doing it.
I think it rubbed a lot of owners wrong and they felt like ‘my team was this close and this one little spot needs to be changed' — but not knowing that maybe they need to change the quarterback, maybe they need to change the offensive line, maybe the receiver. There’s so many different things that need to change, especially celebration rules.”
USA TODAY NETWORKDan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
The change was made in the name of safety, but there are still far more dangerous plays
“They say it was because of a safety aspect — but I would assume, because I played special teams, you’re more likely to get injured on kickoffs or punts, when somebody has a head of steam, running full speed, and somebody cold cocks you."
Jake RothJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Bennett: It's about wins and losses, not safety
“First of all, I hate when the NFL talks about safety: ‘It’s for a safety reason.’ If that was the case, some of the hits people are taking … and it took so long for the NFL to talk about concussions, to talk about injuries that guys dealt with.
So I don’t think it’s ever been a protocol for safety. It’s about winning games. At the end of the day, that’s what the bottom line is. If that was the case, it would have been easy. There would have never been a lawsuit for the past players that needed their healthcare.”