NFL rule change nixes overload formations on special teams

Christian Petersen

NFL owners agreed to institute rule changes on special teams, making it illegal for defenses to overload on one side of the formation.

Special teams coaches will have to adapt to a new rule change this summer when training camps open around the NFL. Owners voted to ban overload formations on special teams, meaning a team attempting to block a field goal or point-after-try will need to have no more than six defenders on either side of the center prior to the snap.

Additionally, a player must have his entire body outside the long snapper's shoulders, which should help protect long snappers.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes this rule change will help protect offensive linemen and tight ends who block on PATs.

"Really, it wasn't about trying to block the kick. It was about taking a shot at the offensive linemen," he said. "So now you can't go low. And you can't put four guys over one guy. And the center, when he has to snap the ball, that's just a vulnerable position for a helmet-to-helmet hit."

Under the new rule, defensive players will not be allowed to shove each other into offensive linemen at the line of scrimmage, which helps protect the offensive linemen. Such a move will result in a 15-yard penalty, per FOX Sports.

Overloading one side isn't just about taking shots, however, as the Buffalo Bills successfully blocked Nick Folk's field goal attempt in Week 17 by overloading one side of the formation.

Buffalo only lined up three defenders left of the long snapper, leaving eight on the right, and ultimately leading to an easy blocked field goal. Buffalo's formation would be extra illegal, as defenders pushed each other into the offensive linemen, leading to the collapse of the interior line and an easy path to block the kick.

The Chicago Bears lined up in a similar formation in 2012, but leaving just four players on one side of the line of scrimmage. Packers1_medium

Green Bay successfully executed a fake field goal to the right part of the field, as the Bears only had four defenders lined up on the right.

The above two formations are now illegal going forward -- much to the relief of offensive linemen throughout the league.

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