Bills players got to meet with officials about the new rules

August 2, 2018
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Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) - One big thing the past few years in the NFL is fans and players wondering what constitutes a catch? This season, there’s a new rule about targeting with you’re head while tackling.

On Wednesday, a NFL officiating crew came to St. John Fisher and spoke to the Bills players about that rule and others. Lorenzo Alexander said it was a productive meeting, “There are certain points of emphasis they’re going to have this year with some of the big ones the new helmet rule, some changes on what DB’s can do and the biggest one because it’s totally different is the kickoff rule.

“They laid it out to us, obviously guys asked questions and the biggest thing that guys want to make sure of is there’s consistency because a lot of these calls are subjective and from week to week, you can get a totally different call from the same exact play and I think that’s what frustrated us at times because there is so much disparity between one judge to the next referee.”

I wanted to know if Alexander got a better understanding of the targeting rule by talking to an official. He said, “A little bit, it’s more about not having risky play, good fundamentals, having your head up.

“The hard thing about it is it always seems like it’s the onus of the defender not to do it. You can have a runningback running through and he dips, so you lower because this is a game of leverage, so I’m lowering and if I still hit him with my facemask and you have it at a certain angle you may think I dropped my head, but they look at it on film and say, “No, that’s a good play,’ but it’s a 15 yard penalty and that could’ve hurt the team.”

When plays are made at the goal line, everybody up front gets low and Alexander wonders about that, “How do you call a goal line play? That’s going to be very hard, do you let it go because that’s just the nature of the game down there or do you call it by the letter of the law?"

Being a defensive back, Micah Hyde is going to have to be mindful of the helmet rule. He said, “It’s up and down, it’s not clear cut. They showed some players where the whole room was like, no way, this is getting crazy, but it’s the rules and you’ve got to abide by them.”

The changes come with leading with your helmet. Hyde said, “You’re going to tackle somebody and your head hits him first, it’s not like you’re spearing him, but your head hits first and they’re saying that’s a personal foul because you’re leading with your head”

Hyde said he can’t be scared to hit people, and by scared I mean in fear of getting a penalty. The safety said, “You can’t not be aggressive, you can’t be passive when you’re going to tackle people. This is a violent game, there are 265 pound tight ends that are running full speed at you, you don’t have time to think about how to tackle him, you just get him to the ground.”

On special teams, Danny Crossman isn’t quite sure what he has to teach yet. He said, “I am not a big fan of guessing. I think the biggest thing for me, and you look around the league, it’s going to be what happens and what you see in preseason. This will be the most important preseason in terms of the kicking game in the 17 years that I’ve been in the league. It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be important because, to see really what people are trying to do on both sides of it, the kickoff and the kickoff return.”

Does the return team have an advantage with the new alignment? Crossman said, "Well, I don’t know. It could be you see more alternative kicks. It could be there’s a lot of things that could happen. My mind is racing [about the] possibilities. Now, what people do, that’s why I say [that the] preseason and the early part of the year is going to be important. Like anything else, we know it’s a little bit of a copycat league, so you may be preparing for one or two things and as the season progresses, you may see a lot of change from every team, possibly even us.”