Illegal man downfield

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Illegal man downfield

Postby fredp45 » Sun Oct 05, 2008 6:47 pm

Last week vs Dallas, Casey was flagged for being downfield too far on a passing play...

2 questions:

1) What is the rule exactly?
2) Why is that rule in place? My brother and I have two theories (one is about blocking and the other is about appearing like an eligible receiver)

After the game, Trevor M on CSN said that a OL can block a guy all the way down the field on any play, as long as he's engaged with the defender, once he's not engaged he needs to drop to a knee to avoid the flag on a passing play. Does it matter if you're in the play or not? Meaning, you're too far downfield (whatever that is) and the play goes to the other side of the field.

Anyone know anything about this rule?

Thanks a lot...

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Postby Deadskins » Sun Oct 05, 2008 8:33 pm

I couldn't find the exact rule, but this might help:
Umpire—Primary responsibility to rule on players’ equipment, as well as their conduct and actions on scrimmage line. Lines up approximately four to five yards downfield, varying position from in front of weakside tackle to strongside guard. Looks for possible false start by offensive linemen. Observes legality of contact by both offensive linemen while blocking and by defensive players while they attempt to ward off blockers. Is prepared to call rule infractions if they occur on offense or defense. Moves forward to line of scrimmage when pass play develops in order to insure that interior linemen do not move illegally downfield. If offensive linemen indicate screen pass is to be attempted, Umpire shifts his attention toward screen side, picks up potential receiver in order to insure that he will legally be permitted to run his pattern and continues to rule on action of blockers. Umpire is to assist in ruling on incomplete or trapped passes when ball is thrown overhead or short. On punt plays, Umpire positions himself opposite Referee in offensive backfield—5 yards from kicker and one yard behind.

http://www.supernfl.com/NFLRules.html
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Postby VetSkinsFan » Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:00 am

This is a little bit better I think. It's not official NFL rules, but seems to comprehensively answer the question:

On the illegal man down field penalty, how far down the field is a lineman allowed to go while the quarterback is behind the line of scrimmage? Is there anything else affecting this call? --Max Salk, Northbrook, Ill.

Under NFL rules, it is a foul when an ineligible offensive player, including a T-formation quarterback, prior to a legal forward pass advances beyond the line of scrimmage after losing contact with an opponent at the line of scrimmage. The guidline for officials to use is the offending player must be more than one yard beyond the line of scrimmage prior to the pass.



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Postby fredp45 » Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:06 pm

ok, I appreciate the answer to my first question, now, why is that rule in place? Is it a really old rule that doesn't have much meaning or reason anymore or is it because they don't want lineman blocking downfield (if so, why not?) or is it because a lineman would look like a receiver and confuse the defenders into thinking they must cover that player leaving an eligible receiver open? OR, would a team send everyone downfield (like we did as kids) and therefore, make organized football look more like our pickup games?

I know there are still rules in place that came about 40-50 years ago when the game was very different, more of a running game for sure. Evidenced by the fact, Romo already has more 300 yard passing games than Bart Starr and Roger Staubach combined.

Thanks for the quick responses.

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Postby Deadskins » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:44 pm

There are a couple of reasons for the rule that I can think of off the top of my head:
1. It helps the refs keep track of who is an eligible receiver, and who is not, if only receivers can be down the field.
2. Blockers could be downfield ahead of the receiver, to basically block the defenders from being able to cover receivers. So you could be setting up a screen pass 20 yards downfield without the rule.
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Postby Thundersloth » Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:59 pm

Yes, the old ineligible man downfield call. This rule is in place to help keep teams from "flooding" zones with players that would influence the defensive coverage schemes.

Most officials will give you about 2-3 yards downfield before they call you for being downfield.

It is also a penalty for any ineligible receiver to be the first to touch the ball, it is the "illegal touching" rule.
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Postby welch » Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:13 pm

The rule exists because it would give an unfair advantage to the offense if a couple of guards could go downfield to block for a receiver. Imagine if the screen play could be run five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

It's not really an antique rule.

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Postby fredp45 » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:05 pm

Thanks again...

Therein lies the problem. Thundersloth and Welch, the last two posters, gave two different reasons:

1) so ineligible receives don't flood an area, requiring the defense to worry about covering them; and

2) so they don't block downfield.

Is this rule in place for both reasons or just one of them?

When this happened to the Skins, vs Dallas, my brother and I each thought it was for a different reason. I thought it was 1) above as I think it would be unfair to send people downfield that are ineligible to catch the ball as that would confuse defenders on who to cover. I didn't believe it's blocking based.

My brother thought it was 2) above. I don't believe 2) is the answer as a flag is thrown whether you're blocking or not...like Casey vs Dallas who was just standing downfield.

Remember, you can't block downfield until the ball has been received whether you're eligible or not -- ala, Devin Thomas getting flagged this weekend vs Eagles for blocking before Santana caught the pass.

Okay, I know, who really cares? I just find some rules worth thinking about and discussing and this one hit me after Casey was flagged for it. I even wonder if the rule shouldn't provide an out if the player isn't near the action. Casey is 4 yards downfield on the right but the play goes deep left.

Anyway...thanks again to the responders.

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Postby Fios » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:06 pm

According to Trevor Mattich, the rule actually states that if Casey had taken a knee there, he would not have been flagged, because he can be downfield so long as he's engaging the defender but once the defender breaks away, he has to go down to one knee.
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Postby Deadskins » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:19 pm

Fios wrote:According to Trevor Mattich, the rule actually states that if Casey had taken a knee there, he would not have been flagged, because he can be downfield so long as he's engaging the defender but once the defender breaks away, he has to go down to one knee.

Take a knee, Rabach! Sounds like something a high-school coach would say. :lol:
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Postby Thundersloth » Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:59 pm

I'm gonna say it's got a bit to do with both confusing the defensive coverages and blocking downfield.

I'm not sure on the NFL rule but I do know that linemen can be downfield as far as they want blocking on a pass play as long as the pass is completed behind the LOS in the college game. I'll try to research that and get back to you.
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Postby Thundersloth » Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:23 pm

I looked a couple of places and really couldn't get a straight answer about the rule. I wish the NFL would just put the rules online, it would make it a lot easier.

I saw one message board where they said that "when the offensive lineman advances beyond the line of scrimmage on a normal play, it tells the defense that a pass will not be thrown on the play. This is the reason that the penalty exists. It would be sending a false message to the defense and would change its defensive reaction on the play. The defense is set up to do different things based on whether the play is a run or pass -- if a tackle hits a linebacker, the linebacker immediately knows it's a run and he doesn't have to worry about pass defense."

http://the506.com/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1220994993

But that doesn't sound right to me, I've seen teams do "influence pulls" to draw up LBs, play action draws up LBs and draw plays themselves are meant to deceive LBs.
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Postby Deadskins » Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:05 am

On a draw, the blocking mimics a pass, though. The linemen backpedal instead of driving off the ball, as for a run.
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Postby Bob 0119 » Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:36 am

I think the idea is largely to keep the structure of the line of scrimmage intact.

Otherwise you would have 10 eligable recievers and the game would quickly devolve into a game of keep-away.
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Postby Thundersloth » Fri Oct 10, 2008 3:30 pm

JSPB22 wrote:On a draw, the blocking mimics a pass, though. The linemen backpedal instead of driving off the ball, as for a run.


Totally correct JS but I was referring to this part of the statement:

It would be sending a false message to the defense and would change its defensive reaction on the play. The defense is set up to do different things based on whether the play is a run or pass

That's exactly what the draw is supposed to do; send a false message to the defense and get the LBs to drop and "draw" the D-line upfield, which is why I don't agree with the statement of why the penalty exists.

Bob

You can't have 10 eligible receivers because the only players who are eligible are:

A) last man on the LOS i.e. tight ends and split ends or
B) players that are lined up in the offensive backfield.
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