The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Do you agree with the league’s decision to eliminate blindside blocks entirely for player safety?
In case you missed it yesterday—and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if you did given that the headline of the day on the rules front was the addition of pass interference penalties to the review process—among the rules that the owners agreed to pass yesterday was the removal of all blindside blocks from the game.
It has been obvious for years that it had been slowly heading that way, with seemingly each year one type of blindside block being eliminated—recall the one that got JuJu Smith-Schuster suspended for the hit he put on Vontaze Burfict—but as of now, all types of blindside blocks are gone.
While it will change, in a very small way, ‘the way the game is played’, what it will do is cut down on some of the single harshest plays in all of the game. As you’ll recall, for example, Burfict suffered a concussion on the aforementioned block by Smith-Schuster, even though it continues to be celebrated in Pittsburgh.
Blindside blocks defined as “a player initiat[ing] a block when he is moving toward or parallel to his own end line and makes contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder” are now a thing of the past.
According to league research, a full third of all concussions suffered on punt players were inflicted due to blindside blocks, so this also makes that specific play safer as well—and perhaps helps keep it around longer.
Essentially, the highlight reel blocks on the blindside are gone, but that is not going to stop a blocker from preventing a defender from making a play. It might not be done in as spectacular fashion, but as long as the blocker is smart, this should not be a hindrance to either the offense or defense in practical terms.