NFC North: Dean Blandino

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- No more dunking over the goal posts.

What's next, no more Lambeau Leaps?

It was worth wondering if that could be abolished after NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said Tuesday the league will penalize players if they celebrate with a dunk over the crossbar.

Like the Lambeau Leap, which dates to 1993, the goalpost dunk was previously grandfathered in by the league, making it exempt from a celebration penalty.

Unlike the dunk, it looks like the Lambeau Leap is safe.

In response to an email seeking clarification about whether the Lambeau Leap could eventually join the goalpost dunk on the list of banned celebrations, NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello wrote: "The goalpost issue is the potential delay of game for having to re-set the crossbar after being knocked askew by a dunker. It has happened a few times. Not the case for the leap."

The Lambeau Leap has become expected of all Green Bay Packers players who reach the end zone during a home game. It began when then-safety LeRoy Butler jumped into the stands during a game on Dec. 23, 1993, after he scored on a 25-yard fumble return that was originally recovered by defensive end Reggie White, who lateraled the ball to Butler.

"We grandfathered in some [celebrations], the Lambeau Leap and things like that, but dunking will come out," Blandino said, according to NFL.com. "Using the ball as a prop or any object as a prop, whether that's the goalpost, the crossbar, that will come out and that will be a foul next season."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino was in the process of reviewing the closing seconds of the Green Bay Packers' 38-31 loss on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers, league spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.

It remains to be seen whether the NFL will see things the same way Mike McCarthy did.

Not that it will be much consolation if they do.

On Monday, the Packers coach said he thought the officials prevented center Evan Dietrich-Smith from snapping the ball as soon as the clock started with 10 seconds remaining.

"I wish, what I said after the game, I wish the officiating mechanics were intact," McCarthy said. "I think it's clear to everybody, it doesn't take 10 seconds to throw a three-step drop."

The Packers thought they should have been able to get off two plays in the final 10 seconds, but the game ended after the first one -- Matt Flynn's incomplete pass in the end zone.

McCarthy on Monday said the officials told Dietrich-Smith he could not snap the ball until umpire Undrey Wash gave him the go-ahead by pointing at him. Replay showed that Wash did not point to Dietrich-Smith until six or seven seconds had ticked off the clock.

Perhaps that's why referee Carl Cheffers ran back toward the line of scrimmage and appeared to say something several seconds after he had blown his whistle and given the signal to start the clock. It's possible Cheffers was reminding Wash to give Dietrich-Smith the indication.

"Those are questions probably more for the officials department," McCarthy said. "The referee and the umpire need to be on the same page as far as the way the umpire stands over the ball, he backs out, the coordination of the referee starting the clock. Dietrich[-Smith] was informed don't snap the ball until the umpire pointed at him. The umpire pointed at him at 3 seconds.

"If you watch the game, obviously we were all up in arms about it after the game. But if you go back and watch the video, I think it's clear exactly what happened."

The Packers found themselves in that situation after a false-start penalty was called on right tackle Don Barclay. The flag actually should have been on right guard T.J. Lang, who moved before the snap, but Dietrich-Smith took responsibility for the mistake because he said he snapped the ball late. Because the Packers did not have any timeouts remaining, the false start required a 10-second run off, which left them at second-and-goal from the 6-yard line with 10 seconds left.

"I didn't see the clock on that play," said Dietrich-Smith, who can be seen on the replay looking up at Wash and waiting for his signal. "I thought we had plenty of time."

McCarthy said he planned to have Flynn take a three-stop drop and throw on the second-down play. That's a quick play that he felt should have given the Packers another chance if it didn't work. Before the snap, Flynn audibled, but the clock had already started to run.

"That was all done, if I recall, I'm going off more memory [of] last night, I think before Carl stepped back into position," McCarthy said. "So it just wasn't coordinated. I'm not trying to get in trouble here or anything, but it doesn't take 10 seconds to run a three-step drop pass. I think we all understand that."
We're Black and Blue All Over:

Late Wednesday night, I passed along the NFL's explanation for why Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic was fined $21,000 for what seemed to be a standard hard hit last week on San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie. In short, NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said that Bostic used the crown of his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to Willie and defined Willie as a "defenseless receiver."

Some of you objected to that final characterization. When you watch the play, Willie had begun the process of catching the ball and was already running when he collided with Bostic. Just so we're all on the same page, here is part of the NFL's definition of a "defenseless receiver," one that is wider than you probably realized.

A player is considered to be in a "defenseless posture" when, among other things, he is "attempting to catch a pass" according to the NFL rule book, or he has "completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become the runner." The receiver is not considered defenseless if he "is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent."

I guess you could squeeze Willie into that wide definition, but I think we all know there have been plenty of similar occasions when the NFL has looked the other way.

Continuing around the NFC North:
Earlier Wednesday, we discussed the hit that has cost Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic $21,000 in NFL fines. As you recall, Bostic hit San Diego Chargers receiver Mike Willie with the top of his helmet to dislodge a potential completed pass.

In live action, the hit looked like countless others we've witnessed in football and seen celebrated on highlight shows and by NFL Films. But the NFL found Bostic in violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7 (b2), which bars a player from "lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/'hairline' parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player's body."

[+] EnlargeJon Bostic
AP Photo/Scott BoehmLeading with his shoulder would have made this Jon Bostic hit legal, an NFL executive said.
Because the ruling doesn't pass our amateur smell test, I thought it was fair to relay a response from the NFL's vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino. In this NFL Network appearance, Blandino was asked what Bostic should have done differently to ensure it was a legal hit under NFL rules.

Here is what Blandino said:

"The Bostic hit is illegal because he used the crown of his helmet to deliver a forcible blow to the body of the receiver. For this hit to be legal, he has to get the helmet to the side and use the shoulder to deliver the blow, or hit the receiver with his head up. Those are the two techniques that we are trying to get back in the game. So using the crown to deliver the blow to the body, that is a foul when you're talking about a hit on a defenseless player."

As we discussed earlier, the NFL is moving away, with all available speed, from anything resembling contact with or to the head. Instead, as Blandino said, it would prefer players hit with the shoulder. If leading with the head is unavoidable, the player must have his head up so that contact is to the face and with the facemask rather than the crown of the helmet. Welcome to the new world order.

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