Andy Barall writes about pro football history for The Fifth Down.
The N.F.L.’s decision to reposition the umpire has already drawn criticism from no-huddle teams like the Colts. But besides the issue of the mechanics of spotting the ball, there are a couple of other things to look for when the regular season starts.
There could be an increase in holding by defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage. Most of the running plays you see in today’s N.F.L. – the inside zone, the outside zone, the off-tackle power, the isolation – involve one or more combination blocks by adjacent offensive linemen. They start out as a double-team. With four hands on the defensive lineman and four eyes on the linebacker behind him, one of the offensive linemen will disengage and climb to the second level to get the linebacker to finish the combo block.