If you’re a football purist and grew up watching Mel Blount and Jack Lambert, avert your eyes from this story.
Starting this year, hits like the one Ryan Shazier dished out on Gio Bernard in the Wild Card game will be illegal, according to Pro Football Talk. The rule change will eliminate the “angle” element from the equation. The old rule specified a player must “line up” and take a straight-forward angle while leading with the crown of his helmet to constitute and illegal hit. Starting in 2016, the angle will not matter.
Here is what Blandino said in ruling the Shazier hit legal, also from PFT.
“Blandino explained in a weekly officiating video that the play lacked the key element of the player “lining up” the opponent. Blandino said that, because the players were moving at different angles, Shazier wasn’t able to “line up” Bernard.”
Here is a look at the hit. Shazier forced a fumble on the play, which the Steelers recovered in their wild comeback victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This will be one of several rule changes in the league this year. They won’t all hinder the defender, however. There is a good chance the league will eliminate all offensive chop blocks. A chop block is when a defender, engaged by a linemen, is cut blocked by another. This is still legal by adjacent linemen on the playside.