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Old 11-02-2006, 10:48 AM  
Wile_E_Coyote Wile_E_Coyote is offline
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Competition Committee: false starts must be curbed

Can a helmet prevent an early jump?

By Gordon Forbes
Special to NFL.com
(Nov. 2, 2006) -- There may be a solution to what Mike Pereira calls "probably the most boring penalty we have."

The foul is known as a false start. It could be as subtle as a twitch of the hand, or as evident as a sudden pre-snap lunge, usually by an offensive lineman. And don't think those smarties on the other side of the ball don't react like a sprinter reacts to a starter's pistol. Offensive twitch, defensive flinch ... now it's first-and-15.

"We've got to take a look at the false-start thing because there were 852 of them last year," says Pereira, the NFL's vice president of officiating.

"It's the second-most penalty called, with (offensive) holding first at 880. It's boring because it causes the action to stop and no play ever gets run."

Last offseason, the competition committee spent long hours analyzing false starts. The coaches did their own analysis because false starts are often foolish momentum breakers. Are they caused by the noise in those rocking stadiums in Seattle, Kansas City and Philadelphia? Or is it the multiple shifts and motion of some offenses? Or maybe the different cadence when a backup quarterback is forced into the game?

The competition committee members aren't quite sure, only that false starts must be curbed. With the NFL in a high-tech era, the committee will consider -- and probably recommend -- the use of radio helmets by all offensive linemen. The blockers would get the snap count electronically. All the twitching and lunging would be minimized, cutting the number of false starts, which has totaled 798, 822 and 852 over the past three seasons.

"The last three years, the number has risen dramatically," says Atlanta general manager Rich McKay, co-chair of the competition committee. "It's not something we like that isn't positive for our game. We've looked at it a million different ways."

What McKay and his fellow members found was that the correlation between false starts and loud stadiums wasn't as obvious as they once thought. "Maybe it has to do with all the shifting and motion we've got today," said McKay.

Ernie Accorsi, the New York Giants general manager, offers another opinion on the issue of false starts. "Most of them are at the line of scrimmage and involve protection calls," says Accorsi.

Last season, visiting teams were flagged for 24 false starts at Seattle's Qwest Field, a league high. The Giants false started 11 times in a heart-breaking overtime loss at Qwest. But some of the other stadiums with a tradition of crazy sounds didn't live up to their reputations. In Philadelphia, the Eagles were guilty of 25 false starts, seven more than the visitors. In Kansas City, another noisy venue, the Chiefs actually had more false starts (13) than the visitors (10).

And figure this one out. At Carolina's Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers were hit with only one false start in 964 snaps. It was almost as if they were already playing with electronic helmets.

"We've spent a lot of time trying to conclude why the number has risen," says Pereira. "A couple of ideas were passed on. Loosen the rule, where you forgive the slight twitch by an eligible receiver if it doesn't cause a reaction. And you could put speakers in people's helmets. But there was also a discussion of whether that could be used for coaching purposes. Another issue, does the system have a delay? If it does, that obviously would defeat the purpose of the system."

Any kind of twitch rule would involve some tough calls for the head linesman. Sensing that, McKay says he wouldn't be opposed to the use of radio helmets.

Neither would John Mara, the Giants president and a competition committee member. "It's not good for the game," says Mara. "It slows things down. It makes the game a little sloppy."

Mara says there wasn't enough support for the radio helmet last spring to suggest the project would have been approved if put to a vote. "But I don't think we've seen the last of that yet," said Mara.

Former referee Jim Tunney, however, says the game doesn't need any more technology. "I think instant replay is working very well, but let's not get too far into that," said Tunney. "Players forget the snap count. That's why they jump. Crowd noise doesn't bother an offensive lineman unless he forgets the count. I think it's all discipline."

Harvey Shuhart, whose Ivyland, Pa., company developed the quarterback helmet, estimates it would take six to eight months to produce a workable radio helmet for the offense. Defensive coordinators would scream at the project, sensing that there could be some electronic tricks played by their offensive counterparts.

So, what about radio helmets for the defense?

The idea was passed on to the owners last March and stirred considerable interest. "The reason it didn't pass, I believe, was that there was no backup," says Pereira. "I mean, if you did a coach-to-defensive player radio helmet, who would you pick? If you pick your middle linebacker, and he gets hurt on the first play, then you're out for the rest of the game."

Pereira said if you designated your strong safety as the backup, he couldn't be in the game at the same time as the middle backer. Pereira, however, thinks that some form of radio communication among defensive players will be approved in the next few years.

The competition committee will discuss the outbreak of false starts with coaches in February at the annual Combine session in Indianapolis.

"Anything is possible," says Pereira. "All we know is that since 2001 (when there were 605 false starts), the number has been going up and up and up."


But not this year. After six weeks, the number of false start is 242, a drop of 49, or about 16 percent. "It's discipline," says Mike Pereira. "They're more conscious of false starts."
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:52 AM   #2
OnTheWarpath58 OnTheWarpath58 is offline
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**** it.....let's get rid of penalties all together.

The officials don't seem to call the game by the rules anyway.....
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:55 AM   #3
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Fuk that. If they could hear on the radio headsets that would take the crowd out of the game
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:57 AM   #4
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the pussification of the NFL
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:58 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by BigRedChief
Fuk that. If they could hear on the radio headsets that would take the crowd out of the game
Would it be possible to be loud enough so that they can't even hear their headsets?
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:01 AM   #6
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Last season, visiting teams were flagged for 24 false starts at Seattle's Qwest Field, a league high. The Giants false started 11 times in a heart-breaking overtime loss at Qwest.


I wonder if this has anything to do with the "crack down".
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:10 AM   #7
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The way I see it, the NFL should just give officials some room for discretion. You don't want an offensive lineman to get into his blocking stance before the ball is hiked, so throw a flag if he's up and in stance early, but if he just twitches or nods his head a bit, I say ignore it and let the play go.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:11 AM   #8
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You want to eliminate the "boring" part of watching NFL football?

Stop taking so many ****ing commercial breaks. The only thing that's making the game less exciting to watch is the growing need to line pockets.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:12 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jspchief
You want to eliminate the "boring" part of watching NFL football?

Stop taking so many ****ing commercial breaks. The only thing that's making the game less exciting to watch is the growing need to line pockets.

Yeah, the amount of actual football being played (from the snap of the ball to the end of the play) is only around 15-20 minutes total, and yet it takes us three hours to watch the whole game.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jspchief
You want to eliminate the "boring" part of watching NFL football?

Stop taking so many ****ing commercial breaks. The only thing that's making the game less exciting to watch is the growing need to line pockets.
Or the five minute ref huddle as they try to figure out what to call.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:19 AM   #11
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I wonder if this has anything to do with the "crack down".
Another NY Team lost away so time to change the rules.

The Twitch agreed a line judgement call on movement.

But then everyone will start Twitching.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:23 AM   #12
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They could have reduced this year's total by one already by correctly calling the defense for encroachment on Tynes' 52 yard field goal, instead of flagging Bigfoot for a false start.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:28 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bob Dole
They could have reduced this year's total by one already by correctly calling the defense for encroachment on Tynes' 52 yard field goal, instead of flagging Bigfoot for a false start.
Agreed. I thought that was a botched call. Glad it didn't hurt us in the end.
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Old 11-02-2006, 11:31 AM   #14
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It is not a bright idea to tell a stadium full of fans they don't/won't make a difference

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Old 11-02-2006, 11:37 AM   #15
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Here's my view:

1. NO more helmet radios. The QB radio is enough. I could do with out that one too.

2. Keep the penalty exactly the same for offensive lineman.

3. Maybe loosen the rules just a little for WR's and TE's that are split out like a WR.

4. PENALIZE Peyton Manning for all of the pre-snap crap that he does for God's sake!!
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