The NFL has announced four rule changes for the 2017 season.
Six years following the modification of sudden death overtime, the extra period has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10. The rule should improve player safety. To put things into perspective, there have been 83 overtime games since 2012, 22 of which lasted more than 10 minutes.
“We think this is an important change,” commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Particularly for teams that may be into an overtime situation, and a lengthy overtime situation, and have to come back and play on a Thursday night.”
After discussions with players, coaches, officials, teams and fans, the NFL is relaxing their celebration rules to “allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays.” Following a touchdown, using the football as a prop will be permitted as well as celebrating on the ground and group demonstrations. Despite the new approach, the league still has a line drawn in the sand.
“Offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent will still be penalized,” a league statement said.
Goodell added, “The number one thing that I took away from the conversations with players is the incredible commitment they have to the game and the integrity of the game. They recognize that sportsmanship is an important thing for them to demonstrate on the field in large part because of the people who are watching, and also to keep high standards.”
Instead of having two cut days where the summer roster is trimmed prior to the fourth preseason game from 90 to 75 and once again from 75 to 53 less than a week later, all teams will have one cutdown deadline, from 90 to 53, following their final preseason games. This change is expected to prevent injuries to key reserve players as most starters don’t participate in the final preseason game.
Injured Reserve Eligible Players
Two players are now allowed to return from Injured Reserve as opposed to one. Players designated to return are eligible to practice after six weeks on IR and play after eight weeks. This allows players who suffer injuries at an early point of the season to come back for potentially significant games late in the season.
The first month of last season was instrumental to the success of the New England Patriots. Going 3-1 without suspended quarterback Tom Brady helped set the team up for another Super Bowl run. This is the first in a four-part series breaking down the 2017 schedule.
Not many thought the New England Patriots would get off to a strong 3-1 start last year with their best player Tom Brady sidelined due to a suspension. However, they did just that behind reserve quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. That critical first quarter of the season saw the players bond and build confidence without their leader.
However, no team in the NFL has won back-to-back Super Bowl titles since the Patriots last accomplished the feat following the 2004 campaign. Free agency and parity have made it very difficult to repeat. But New England is in much better shape than most defending Super Bowl champions. Here’s an early breakdown of how the first four games of the 2017 schedule look…
Hosting Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, September 7th
You have to go back to 2012 to find the last time the defending Super Bowl champ lost the NFL season opener at home. The Patriots are already listed as 7.5-point home favorites in Las Vegas as they host the Chiefs, and it is hard to imagine them losing in this spot. The last time New England played Kansas City was in the 2016 divisional playoffs and resulted in a 27-20 home victory. Put a W next to this one as well.
Visiting New Orleans Saints on Sunday, September 17th
This is a tricky matchup for New England featuring two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Brady and Drew Brees. New Orleans will be coming off a road game against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football in their season opener, with future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson visiting his former team. New Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks now gets to visit his former team in Week 2 while cornerback Malcolm Butler faces a foe that nearly traded for him. The extra time to prepare for Bill Belichick and short week for the Saints will be a factor. New England improves to 2-0.
Hosting Houston Texans on Sunday, September 24th
While the Texans had a pretty good NFL Draft according to many experts, they may be starting Tom Savage at QB until rookie Deshaun Watson is ready. Regardless, it will not be easy for whoever is under center for Houston at Gillette Stadium, just ask Brock Osweiler. On the other hand, this should be easiest of the first four games for the Patriots. They win by double digits.
Hosting Carolina Panthers on Sunday, October 1st
With a 3-0 start for the third straight year, New England will be a bit overconfident heading into this game. The Panthers took a step back last season and saw the Atlanta Falcons rise to the top of the NFC South, making it all the way to the Super Bowl. We all know what happened there. But the Patriots will be playing a dangerous opponent in Carolina that could get back to the Super Bowl. The teams have split the past six meetings, including a 32-29 New England win in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Look for Cam Newton and the Panthers to pull off the upset at Gillette.
Brandon Marshall has been tormenting cornerbacks in the NFL for over a decade, but defensive backs will be able to rest easy in 2020.
Marshall told ESPN at the NBC4 Health and Fitness expo that he plans to retire after two more NFL seasons.
The 33-year-old wideout signed with the Giants this offseason. He told ESPN that he wants to win a Super Bowl, then go change the world in the mental health space.
Marshall was drafted in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Broncos. He has played for Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets, and ranks 24th all-time in receiving yards, 23rd in receiving touchdowns and 18th in receptions. He has made six Pro Bowls.
He has also been a long-time advocate of mental health awareness, so his post-career move was to be expected.
WELCOME TO BUFFALO — Bills first-round NFL football draft pick Shaq Lawson holds his jersey as he poses for photos following a media conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. Also pictured, from left: head coach Rex Ryan, owners Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula, managing partner and president Russ Brandon and general manager Doug Whaley. AP Photo)
Stewart love— The Buffalo Bills filled their most pressing defensive needs early in the NFL draft before adding an intriguing long-term prospect at quarterback on Saturday.
That left general manager Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan in a particularly jubilant mood Saturday night.
“I’m going to have a tough time believing somebody had a better draft,” Ryan said. “But it will be proved out as the years go on … it just so happened that these landed really great.”
The Bills’ immediate focus was to improve a defense that disappointed and underwhelmed in Ryan’s first year on the job. Buffalo’s first three selections were on defense, and all three players are expected to contribute right away.
With the 19th overall pick, the Bills added Clemson pass rusher Shaq Lawson. Lawson is expected to line up as an outside linebacker opposite Jerry Hughes and will replace the departed Mario Williams.
“He has that Buffalo and Bills mentality,” Ryan said. “He’s going to fit great in the community. He’s a tough guy, a passionate guy. … There’s not going to be anybody that’s going to play harder than this kid.”
In the second round, Buffalo traded up eight spots to select hard-hitting Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland fills arguably Buffalo’s most pressing need at inside linebacker and will line up in the weak side role in the 3-4.
“You hit it on the head, physical,” Ryan said. “That’s what we said we were going to bring here and that’s what we’re used to and that’s what we want. And I’ve been around the Bart Scotts of the world and things like that. This young man, there’s a lot of similarities in his play.”
Buffalo’s third-round pick, Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington, should contribute right away in a rotational role.
“When you add the three young men at the top of our draft, these three guys will have a major impact on our football team,” Ryan said.
After focusing on defense, the Bills turned to offense with one of their most interesting picks of the draft. Buffalo chose former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones with the 139th pick.
Jones is a raw, developmental prospect who displayed signs of greatness along with inconsistency throughout his time with the Buckeyes. At 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, Jones has a strong arm and tremendous size.
“We told you we’d get a quarterback,” Whaley said. “Tired of going defense. We like this guy.”
After replacing injured quarterbacks Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett, Jones led the Buckeyes to the 2015 national championship. He threw for 2,323 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 23 games.
Jones went undefeated (11-0) as a starter with the Buckeyes but is coming off an inconsistent 2015 campaign. Jones opened the season as Ohio State’s starting quarterback but struggled with his consistency and accuracy under center as the season progressed. He was benched for Barrett late in the season.
“I feel like my ceiling is extremely high,” Jones said.
Starter Tyrod Taylor is coming off a breakout season but his long-term future is in question as he enters the final year of his contract.
Buffalo now has three quarterbacks on its roster with Taylor, Jones and former first-round pick EJ Manuel.
“He’s going to come in and be a three, be able to develop, be able to learn under some professionals that have been at their craft for a while with EJ and Tyrod,” Whaley said. “We like his skill set. He’s got the talent to possibly be a franchise guy.”
Whaley added that he is “very comfortable” with Manuel as Buffalo’s No. 2 QB as Buffalo looks to develop Jones. Manuel struggled in his only two starts last season in place of an injured Taylor, going 0-2 as a starter.
After selecting Jones, the offensive picks continued for Buffalo on Saturday before one final selection on defense.
Buffalo selected Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams 156th overall. Williams missed the entire 2015 season with a foot injury.
Speedster Kolby Listenbee was selected by Buffalo at 192nd overall. Listenbee is one of the fastest players in the draft and ran a 4.39 40 while dealing with a double sports hernia.
The Bills went back to defense for their final pick at 218th overall with USC cornerback Kevon Seymour. Like Listenbee, Seymour is known for his speed and also ran a 4.39 40.
After the draft, the Bills agreed to a deal with Glenn Gronkowski, a fullback from Kansas State who went undrafted and is the brother of Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski tweeted after the draft ended: “staying home. Go bills!”
Two officials familiar with the deal confirmed it to The Associated Press on Saturday night, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the move.