Jesse Pantuosco

Bump and Run

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Bust a Move

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


What day is it, Wednesday? Whatever— let's party!

 

Isn’t that the best party song ever? Shout was actually played over the stadium speakers Monday night in Nashville just as the Predators were putting the finishing touches on their Western Conference title (don’t @ me about hockey—I only care about the Hartford Whalers). That got it stuck in my head and now it’s probably stuck in yours too. Shout obviously makes me think of Animal House but it also reminds me of a wedding I went to on Cape Cod last summer where, because I’m a dumb idiot, I missed the song in its entirety. Of course I was pulling a Good Will Hunting (thankfully I didn’t open with my usual Trent Richardson icebreaker).

 

Wow, even for me that paragraph had a lot of references. But here’s why I’m feeling so festive today. A big announcement was made Tuesday at the NFL’s annual Spring Meeting in Chicago. Actually Roger, would you do us the honors? 

 

That’s right. Celebrating is back—well mostly. There are still a few ways you can get flagged: taunting is a deal-breaker and the league will continue to crack down on any celebrations perceived as violent or sexually suggestive (the Hingle McCringleberry two-pump rule still applies). But aside from those caveats, the simple act of emoting, once frowned upon by NFL higher-ups, will finally be allowed. So showboats like Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown can prepare, here are a few examples of celebrations that would have drawn a flag before but are now perfectly legal:

 

-       Using a football as a prop (Carrot Top would approve)

-       Ground celebrations (a la Lonie Paxton)

-       Group demonstrations (I guess if you want to march Wall Street or something)

 

These rules won’t bring upon any drastic changes—end zone theatrics have always been prevalent, even when players were getting fined for it. But it’s a nice victory for the players and a sign that slowly but surely, the NFL is trying to distance itself from the stuffy reputation it’s gained over the years. With TV ratings down, Goodell is surely hoping this peace offering will help attract younger viewers and anyone else who fits the “pro-fun” demographic (which apparently doesn’t include Marvin Lewis).

 

Canceling the anti-celebration crusade wasn’t the only alteration the NFL made to its rulebook on Tuesday. In an effort to shorten games, the league decided to reduce overtime periods from 15 to 10 minutes. According to NFL Media (with a hat tip to the New York Times), 83 regular season games have required overtime over the last five seasons. 22 of the 83 (that computes to 26.5 percent) have gone longer than 10 minutes.

 

On the surface it would seem that shortening overtime would lead to more ties, though teams would likely combat this by speeding up their style of play. In a way, it also erases some of the progress the NFL made the last time it tweaked the overtime rules. It used to be that whoever scored first won the game, which essentially pinned the game’s result on a coin flip.

 

Giving teams the chance to rebut (except after a touchdown) was a major improvement but now we’ll see either one of two things happen. If the team that wins the coin toss can sustain a long field goal drive (aka the Andy Reid two-minute drill), they can whittle the clock down to nearly nothing, which puts the opponent at a major disadvantage. So basically overtime would become a giant game of keep-away. The other possibility is that teams will race to beat the clock by immediately going into a no-huddle offense.

 

And here lies the biggest problem. The reason for shortening overtime in the first place was to reduce the number of snaps played by either team. That helps with fatigue (especially for teams playing the following Thursday) and would also limit injuries, which should be the NFL’s ultimate goal, aside from displaying an entertaining product (and, you know, making billions of dollars).

 

But as PFT’s Mike Florio points out, if teams jump right into the no-huddle, they’ll be playing just as many snaps as they would have in a regular overtime period. That essentially offsets any benefits that would have come from a shorter overtime. Personally, I’m not a big proponent of the new 10-minute OT but remember, this is coming from the guy who prefers college overtime (two words: Boise State/Oklahoma), so maybe I’m the wrong dude to ask.

 

The NFL also tweaked its policy for players on injured reserve. Now teams can designate two players to return instead of one. That probably would have come in handy for New England last season. The Patriots weren’t able to bring back Rob Gronkowski after his back surgery because they had already tapped third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett as their designated player to return. Not that the Pats needed him—they went undefeated in Gronk’s absence and won Super Bowl 51 in historic fashion.

 

In previous seasons, teams were required to trim their roster from 90 to 75 after the third preseason game. Now teams are allowed to carry 90 players up until final roster cuts at the end of training camp. Not that I’m looking for any sympathy (poor Jesse, he gets to write about sports for a living) but this is going to make final cut day an absolute nightmare for all of us at Rotoworld. It was already pretty hectic having to account for all the players cut when rosters shrank from 75 to 53. Going from 90 to 53 in one fell swoop will be Hell to pay.

 

While they were at it, the league also banned the practice of jumping over linemen, a technique perfected by Troy Polamalu back when he was wreaking havoc on the NFL. Another proposal would have allowed coaches (specifically coordinators) to reach agreements with prospective teams while still coaching in the postseason. It’s a relevant topic after former Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan had to wait until after the Super Bowl to announce that he was leaving to coach the 49ers. However, that discussion has been tabled for now.

 

Last but not least, the NFL made the necessary move of awarding Super Bowl LV (taking place in 2021) to Tampa Bay. Super Bowl LV was supposed to be held at the Rams’ and Chargers’ shared venue in Inglewood but now that construction delays have pushed the stadium’s opening back by at least a year, L.A. will host Super Bowl LVI instead.

 

For years the NFL has been facetiously referred to as the No Fun League. Now that the league has ended its absurd witch hunt against chronic celebrators, it may be time to drop that moniker. The NFL is still deeply flawed. Gisele Bundchen’s reveal that Tom Brady suffered an unreported concussion last year suggests the league still isn’t protecting its players while inconsistent policies on domestic violence and drug violations have put the league in a negative light. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the NFL. Tuesday was a day of progress and Lord knows we need more of those.

 

Quick Hits: Rob Gronkowski agreed to a restructured deal with the Patriots on Tuesday. His $5.25 million base salary is still the same but now Gronk can earn an additional $5.50 million through incentives. He’s under contract through 2019 … Teddy Bridgewater took snaps and even threw passes at Tuesday’s OTAs. Coming off a devastating knee injury last year in training camp, Bridgewater is questionable for Week 1 … Martavis Bryant claims to have put on 10 pounds of muscle during his year-long suspension. The 25-year-old has found the end zone 14 times in his 21-game career … Mike Glennon said it’s “my year” and the Bears are “my team.” The former Buc inked a three-year deal with Chicago this offseason but the Bears quickly changed course by drafting UNC quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick … J.J. Watt said his surgically repaired back feels “very, very good.” He’s not expected to have any restrictions at OTAs … How is Calvin Johnson spending his retirement? Right now he’s appearing as a guest instructor at Raiders OTAs. Megatron never played for Oakland but he has a relationship with OC Todd Downing, who worked as a Lions assistant during Johnson’s time in Detroit … Jamaal Charles is still rehabbing his injured knee but is aiming to return by training camp. The ex-Chief will work in tandem with fellow Broncos backs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker this year … Speaking of backfield committees, the Jets are expected to employ a similar approach to their running game this year. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte will both be in the mix, though the younger Powell is probably the safer bet for fantasy success … Brandon Marshall has plenty of fans but Sheldon Richardson isn’t one of them. The Jets defensive end said there are “15 reasons” why the locker room is a better place this year, a clear jab at Marshall, who wore No. 15 during his two seasons with Gang Green … Odell Beckham wasn’t present for the start of OTAs on Monday but he’s expected to arrive by Thursday. These are voluntary sessions so Beckham won’t be penalized for his no-show … Former Giants running back Rashad Jennings took home first place on this season of Dancing With the Stars, defeating retired Cubs catcher David Ross in the final on Tuesday night. Jennings is the fourth NFL player to win DWTS, following in the footsteps of Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward and Donald Driver … Redskins president Bruce Allen said the team would consider using the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third year in a row if the team can’t sign him to a long-term contract. The projected cap hit for QBs under the franchise tag next year is $34 million … Doug Martin has worked as the Buccaneers’ lead back at OTAs. He won’t be eligible to play until Week 4 while he serves the remainder of his four-game PED suspension … Per Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole, the Cowboys are “doing their homework” on free agent LB Daryl Washington. The 30-year-old has been out of the league the last three years due to repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy but was surprisingly reinstated last month … Giovani Bernard has been working off to the side at OTAs. Bernard should be fully recovered from his torn ACL by Week 1 but may lose playing time to rookie Joe Mixon.

 



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
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Bust a Move
May 24

The NFL is easing up on touchdown celebrations. Jesse Pantuosco gives his take in this week's Bump and Run.

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