Football Ops

Football Ops

Protecting the integrity of the greatest game.

NFL Ops: Honoring the Game

It's our responsibility to strengthen the sport.

League Governance

Ensuring a consistent and fair game that is decided on the field, by the players.

NFL Rules Enforcement

Ensuring that players conduct themselves in a way that honors the sport and respects the game.

NFL Way to Play

Knees Bent. Pads Down. Head Up and Out.

The NFL and HBCUs

The NFL is proud of the HBCU professional football legacy.

Economic & Social Impact

Honoring the league’s commitment to serve the communities where the game is played.

The NFL Ops Team

Meet the people behind NFL Operations.

The Game

The Game

Learn about the people, the jobs and the technology that deliver the best game possible to NFL fans across the U.S. and around the world. 

Game Day: Behind the Scenes

Countdown to kickoff: how NFL games happen.

Technology

In the NFL, balancing technology with tradition.

Impact of Television

How television has changed the game.

History of Instant Replay

Upon further review…

Creating the NFL Schedule

It takes hundreds of computers and five NFL executives to create the NFL’s 256-game masterpiece.

Big Data Bowl

The annual analytics contest explores statistical innovations in football — how the game is played and coached.

Youth Football

Promoting the values of football.

The Players

The Players

Learn how NFL players have changed over time, how they’re developed and drafted and how the league works with them after their playing days are over.  

Evolution of the NFL Player

Creating an NFL player: from “everyman” to “superman.”

Development Pipeline

Supporting the next generation of players and fans.

Getting Into the Game

Preparing players of all ages for success at football’s highest level.

The NFL Draft

Introducing the next wave of NFL superstars. 

NFL Player Engagement

A look at the programs and services NFL Player Engagement provides to assist every player before, during and after his football career.

College All Star Games

Strengthening football and the community.

NFL Legends Community

Strengthening the NFL brotherhood.

The Officials

The Officials

Discover the evolution of professional officiating, the weekly evaluation process and how the NFL identifies and develops the next generation of officials.

In Focus: History of the Official

“One thing hasn’t changed: the pressure. It will always be there.”

Inside NFL GameDay Central

The latest information from the NFL's officiating center.

These Officials Are Really Good

Every week, officials take the field ready to put months of preparation, training and hard work on display, knowing that the whole world — and the Officiating Department — is watching.

Officiating Development

Officiating an NFL game takes years of training and experience. 

The Rules

The Rules

NFL Football Operations protects the integrity of the game by ensuring that the rules and the officiating are consistent and fair to all competitors.

In Focus: Evolution of the NFL Rules

The custodians of football not only have protected its integrity, but have also revised its playing rules to protect the players, and to make the games fairer and more entertaining.

NFL Video Rulebook

The NFL Video Rulebook explains NFL rules with video examples.

2019 NFL Rulebook

Explore the official rules of the game. 6.2.5

2019 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

NFL Overtime Rules

NFL Tiebreaking Procedures

The NFL's procedures for breaking ties for postseason playoffs.

Signals Intelligence

The NFL's familiar hand signals help fans better understand the game.   

NFL Rules Digest

A quick reference guide to the NFL rulebook.

Football 101

Football 101

Terms Glossary

Sharpen your NFL football knowledge with this glossary of the game's fundamental terms. 

Formations 101

See where the players line up in pro football's most common offensive and defensive formations.

Quick Guide to NFL TV Graphics

Understand what the graphics on NFL television broadcasts mean and how they can help you get the most out of watching NFL games.

NFL Instant Replay Process

The NFL’s instant replay review process focuses on expediting instant replay reviews and ensuring consistency. Learn how it works.

Stats Central

Stats Central

Go inside the game with the NFL's official game stats. Sort the stats by season or by week.

The Extra Point

Welcome to the Extra Point, where members of the NFL's football data and analytics team will share updates on league-wide trends in football data, interesting visualizations that showcase innovative ways to use the league's data, and provide an inside look at how the NFL uses data-driven insight to improve and monitor player and team performance.

Chart The Data

Chart and compare the NFL Football Operations stats you're looking for with the NFL's data tool. 

Weekly Dashboard

Get a snapshot of the current NFL game stats, updated weekly during the regular season.

2019 Rules Changes and Points of Emphasis

The NFL is committed to protecting its players from unnecessary risk, while keeping the game fair, competitive and exciting.

The NFL Competition Committee receives and considers input from coaches, general managers, owners, current players and NFL Legends, the NFL Players Association, medical personnel and the media, and conducts hours of discussion and film study before recommending changes to any rule. 

During this process, the Committee asks several questions about each potential rule change: 

  • Does the change improve the game?
  • How will it be officiated?
  • How will it be coached?
  • How can the player play by the rule? 

The league reviews changes with players, coaches and officials during training camp and the NFL Officiating Clinic to help everyone adapt to the rule changes and points of emphasis. The Officiating Department also provides training videos for players and coaches with specific examples.

2019 NFL Rules Changes

Pass Interference Replay Review

Beginning in 2019, both offensive and defensive pass interference calls are reviewable. Plays can be reviewed whether the penalty was called on the field or not. This rule change is subject to a one-year trial period.

A pass interference ruling will be changed in replay only when there is clear and obvious visual evidence that the on-field ruling was incorrect. To change the ruling on the field, there must be clear and obvious evidence that contact “significantly hindered” or “did not significantly hinder” an opponent. See full details on the 2019 replay rule here.

BLINDSIDE BLOCK

Owners voted to expand protection of defenseless players by eliminating the blindside block. It is now prohibited for a blocker to initiate forcible contact with his head, shoulder or forearm when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line. The penalty for an illegal blindside block is a loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down.

KICKOFF

Owners voted to make permanent the kickoff rules changes that were implemented in 2018. The restrictions resulted in a 35% decrease in concussions on kickoff plays when compared to the 2017 season.

2019 NFL kickoff rules.

Here are the NFL kickoff rules:

  • The kickoff team must have five players on each side of the ball and cannot line up more than one-yard from the restraining line. For example, the kicking team will line up at the 34-yard line for a kickoff from the 35-yard line.
  • At least two players must be lined up outside the yard-line number and two players between the inbounds lines (hash marks) and the yard-line number.
  • At least eight players of the receiving team must be lined up in the 15-yard “setup zone” prior to kickoff; only three receiving-team players can remain outside of the setup zone.
  • No wedge blocks are permitted. A wedge block is defined as “two or more players intentionally aligning shoulder-to-shoulder within two yards of each other, and who move forward together in an attempt to block for the runner.”
  • Double-team blocks can only be performed by members of the receiving team who were originally lined up in the set-up zone at the time of the kick.
  • Until the ball is touched or hits the ground, no player on either the receiving or kicking team may block within the 15-yard area from the kicking team’s restraining line. On an onside kick, the kicking team may not block in the first 10 yards.
  • The ball is dead if it is not touched by the receiving team and touches the ground in the end zone (touchback).

Booth Reviews

In addition to pass interference, owners voted to expand the number of plays subject to booth reviews to include:

  • If a penalty flag is thrown that would negate a touchdown, the play will be reviewed first to determine if there was a score before the defense elects to enforce the foul.
  • All two-point conversion reviews will now be initiated by the Replay Official. The plays are no longer challengeable by a coach. This is true regardless of the call on the field.

Other rules changes for 2019 include:

Celebrations

Beginning in 2019, only players in uniform may enter the field to celebrate. If anyone other than a player in uniform enters the field, it is a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct — loss of 15 yards and an automatic first down.

Player Disqualifications

Owners voted to expand the authority of game officials to disqualify players for acts committed during a game. In 2018, designated members of the officiating team could disqualify a player for non-football acts (such as unsportsmanlike conduct) if a flag was thrown related to that act. In 2019, this will be expanded to also include any football act.

Penalty Enforcement on Touchdown Plays

The offense may now apply any penalties committed by the defense to either the ensuing kickoff or to the succeeding extra point or two-point conversion plays.

Points of Emphasis

Use of Helmet

The Officiating Department will continue to emphasize the Use of Helmet rule adopted in 2018.

Video Rulebook: Use of Helmet

The officiating standards for the Use of Helmet rule are: 

  • Lowering the head (not to include bracing for contact)
  • Initiating contact with the helmet to any part of an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area — lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul.
  • Making contact on an opponent (both offense and defense)

Players can be ejected for Use of Helmet fouls — and all ejections will be reviewed by senior officials in Art McNally GameDay Central in New York. The standards for ejection are, if: 

  • The player lowers his helmet to establish a linear body posture prior to initiating and making contact with the helmet;
  • The player delivering the blow had an unobstructed path to his opponent;
  • The contact was clearly avoidable

The Committee is in support of issuing warning letters for any Use of the Helmet fouls in the interior line or where there is little space between players.

Offensive Holding

Offensive holding will be more strictly enforced this season, particularly on the back side of the run play or line of scrimmage. Referees will closely monitor play at the line of scrimmage to ensure that offensive players do not materially restrict opponents or alter the defender’s path or angle of pursuit.

Material restrictions include but are not limited to:

  1. grabbing or tackling an opponent
  2. hooking, jerking, twisting, or turning him
  3. pulling him to the ground.
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