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Mike O’Shea on CFL Rule Changes

WINNIPEG, MB.,- Since the conclusion of the 2021 season, there were multiple reports stating the league would be reviewing all aspects of the game to increase fan engagement. There’s been talk about the league going to four downs and tweaking the Naturalized Cadidan rule. Last week, the CFL announced its rule changes being introduced in the 2022 season.

2022 CFL Rule Changes:

  • Hash Marks on CFL fields will be moved closer to centre field. Each one will be 28 yards from the nearest sideline, instead of 24 yards.
  • All no-yard penalties will be 15 yards. Previously, teams were penalized five yards if a punt hit the ground first and 15 yards if they infringed upon the five-yard area around a returner while the ball was still in the air. Also, punts that go out of bounds before reaching an opponent’s 15-yard line will result in a penalty rather than only those that go out before the 20-yard line.
  • Two quarterbacks will be allowed on the field simultaneously so long as all other ratio rules are satisfied.
  • After a made field goal or single point, drives will start from the 40-yard line, instead of the 35-yard line. Teams kicking off for any reason will do so from their 30-yard line instead of the 35-yard line. The only exception is kickoffs following a safety: they will now occur from the 20-yard line instead of the 25-yard line.
  • A communications co-ordinator from the officiating department connected to the on-field crew via headset will be on each team’s bench. That will allow for information to be shared with coaches without the referee coming to the sidelines, thus improving game flow.
  • Any penalty occurring at the end of the first and third quarters will be assigned at the start of next quarter rather than triggering an extension of the existing quarter.
  • The command centre’s ability to help on-field officials — without a coach’s challenge or officials’ huddle — will now include possession and boundary rulings as well as administrative rulings like formations without an end or ineligible receivers downfield.
  • Quarterbacks who fake giving themselves up on running plays will be flagged for objectionable conduct.
  • Any player receiving two unnecessary roughness calls or two objectionable conduct penalties (or a combination of the two) in a game will be ejected.

By a coincidence, the Blue Bombers held a season preview press conference with Head Coach Mike O’Shae and GM Kyle Walters the same day the new rules were released. A press conference meant to be about the team and the upcoming season turned into talk about the CFL rule changes.

Mike started the press conference by saying that he hope the rule changes will generate more excitement for the position and open up the playbook on both sides of the ball.

“With the rules committee, we look at rules every singles year, we look at what the trends in the game and how the game is flowing. We take direction from the commissioner and the board as to what we need to look at. And if we see there is an opportunity to make our game better and more exciting for the fans, then were going to investigate it thoroughly.

Key Rules:

Hash Marks on the being moved closer together from 24 yards to 28 yards:

Normally, when a receiver lines up on the wide side of the field he is basically there for cardio because the pass is too difficult to make with the shorter field. It will also lessen the impact of the angles for field goal kickers and also affect the directional punting, which had become so prevalent

O’Shea: “Offensively it should open up the playbook a little more and allow you to use the entire field. It’s a very wide field, so the short side game and plays to the wide side outside the wide side numbers were maybe a little more limited. So now that should open up the entire field.

“Then you can add the kicking game… the angle from which the field goal kickers have to work against is less steep. So, we should have a higher field goal percentage. And in the punting game, directional punting is a huge part of our game because of the field and now those footballs kicked to the sideline, there should be more room for the return game. So, overall, it should add more excitement to the game.”

Teams will now be allowed to have two quarterbacks on the field at one time:

The Bombers recently signed former Kansas City Chiefs QB Chase Linton. They could be adding him to the roster to take advantage of the new rule.

O’shae: “It’s another one of those things that’s supposed to add excitement. It remains to be seen how it’s going to be utilized. Obviously when we had Chris Streveler, you could have made an argument then that that would have been a very interesting scenario to do that, and I would imagine teams have looked at that and said, ‘OK, how do we build something, plays or packages around having two quarterbacks on the field at the same time.’ Once again, how we will use it, we’ll see.

“I think the great thing about the CFL is you can have six eligibles in motion on every play. So, I’d imagine the creativity is endless for the offensive coordinators in this league.”

All no-yard penalties will be 15 yards. Also, punts that go out of bounds before reaching an opponent’s 15-yard line will result in a penalty rather than only those that go out before the 20-yard line:

O’Shea: “The return game is so exciting in the CFL with the size of our field, the quality of the returners we have in this league is exciting and we’re just trying to make sure that we allow them to do their jobs, too, rather than stifling them so much that they pick up a ball and get tackled right away.

“I’m looking forward to this. If we get a good return against us, I’ll probably lose my mind, but I know in terms of 15 yard, no yards, we can coach that and make sure our players are doing the right things down the field and every once in a while if the ball bounces backwards, then so be it.”

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