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How New Rule Changes Could Affect the Chargers

Posted Mar 27, 2014

The new NFL rule changes that were approved this week could cater to the Bolts in some ways.

Every year near this time, there is a buzz around the NFL as the annual owners' meetings wrap up. New rules are passed, old rules are modified and proposed rules are rejected or tabled.

This year was no different -- a common celebration was banned, field goal posts extended, PATs neared a significant change and the NFL replay system continued to evolve. Let's take a look at some of the discussions and results that came out of the 2014 owners' meetings and how they pertain to the Chargers.

Perhaps the most significant rule change that was proposed in 2014 was moving the extra point play back to the 25-yard line, making the PAT about a 43-yard attempt. Had this been passed, Chargers fans would be pleased to learn that Nick Novak was the only kicker in the NFL that was perfect from kicks 40-49 yards out in 2014. He was an unblemished 9-for-9 from that range.

This proposal was rejected, for now. Instead, the league will test out a less extreme version of the rule. During Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason, the extra point play will be at the 20-yard line -- about a 38-yard kick. Novak attempted the majority of his field goals from this range (30-39 yards) and went 13-of-16, good for 81 percent. After Week 10, the two-time Special Teams Player of the Week in 2014 went 7-for-7 from that range.

The idea to modify PATs in such a significant manner is still young, so the results from the preseason testing period will be evaluated and the NFL's Competition Committee will likely revisit it next year.

"We had lengthy discussions, but in recent history, this is a new issue," Committee Member Jeff Fisher said. "It just came up this offseason. The committee was concerned about a rule being implemented without having the opportunity to go through the unintended consequences. We all feel like we need to do something, we’re just not quite sure what we are going to do with it yet."

Another noteworthy rule change deals with quarterback sacks. In 2014, the clock will no longer stop after a quarterback sack that occurs outside of two minutes. It will speed up games, and will pose a challenge for an offense that is behind by multiple scores in hurry-up mode. This could be a problem for quarterbacks that are sacked often, and for quarterbacks that lack complete command of the offensive unit. The Chargers don't fall into either of those categories. The Bolts tied for fourth in sacks surrendered in 2013, and Philip Rivers demonstrated complete command and poise in those situations, especially in hostile environments. Having 10th-year pro Nick Hardwick under center doesn't hurt, either. This rule change shouldn't hurt the Chargers offense.

Finally, the banning of goal post dunks was a minor rule change that is receiving major attention from fans and media.

The most memorable Chargers dunk in 2013 came in Week 13 in powder blues, as tight end Ladarius Green ran free down the middle of the field for a 30-yard touchdown and finished with an emphatic slam. Other than that, San Diego wasn't much of a dunking football team. The rule will force wideout Malcom Floyd, who missed the majority of 2013, to find a new favorite celebration. But looking at the touchdown leaders last year, their habitual celebrations remain legal. Keenan Allen is still figuring out his go-to TD celebration, Danny Woodhead likes to jump around a lot, Eddie Royal prefers a sky-high chest bump with the nearest teammate and Ryan Mathews went to a jump ball-flip towards the end of the year.

Hopefully for San Diego fans, they can quench their thirst for dunk-viewing as the San Diego State Aztecs continue their NCAA Tournament run on Thursday night.

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