Canadian Football League makes rule changes to boost offensive potential

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Given the initial fan survey, the extensive review of the product by key stakeholders, and the rather predictable public reaction to the proposed move to four downs, the Canadian Football League was looking for other ways to increase the game’s level of spectacle.

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Topping the list of rule changes approved by the board of governors and announced on Wednesday is an adjustment to the trellises on each side of the field. They will be moved four yards closer to the center of the field and will be nine yards away instead of 17.

“After being able to sit down with a lot of our football guys and just talk about it, a lot of them said that we mostly play 11-man football because getting wide out to the wide side of the field really wasn’t a factor in the most offensive games.” Commissioner Randy Ambrosi said. “It was too long a throw that the coaches wouldn’t like. So now one of the most striking features of the Canadian game, our big field, the whole field is part of the attacking canvas. We don’t know how this will end, but I think that we are all optimistic that this will lead to positive changes.

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“It fits the original purpose well; we want fun, we want fast and we want to be the most spectacular football brand in the world. I think this is the right change at the right time.”

There are several changes designed to ease offending. After a field goal or single point, offensive attacks start at the 40-yard line instead of the 35-yard line. 20, not 25. All no-yard penalties will be 15 yards, excluding the five-yard penalty, in the hope of preventing deliberate violations of the five-yard halo to limit retaliation yards. And any shot that goes out of bounds to the opponent’s 15-yard line will be penalized, another five-yard adjustment from the previous 20-yard line buffer.

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“These changes should mean better position on the field to start an attacking streak, which should lead to more points and more consistent attacks, which contributes to better gameplay,” said Ambrosi. “We know that an attack that starts in the shadow of its own goal has to be more conservative in its actions, while a good position on the field gives the attack more opportunities. Also, moving the kickoff five yards back after the safety can discourage coaches from dropping the safety to defend the field. The fact that a player kneels in the end zone can be perceived as strategic, but it is not interesting to watch at all.

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The league will also allow two quarterbacks to be on the field at the same time, as long as all other ratio requirements are met.

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Ambrosi said the product review and subsequent rule changes should be viewed through a wider lens.

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“We spent most of the last two years thinking about how to fix our business? There have been really big changes; incorporating a long overdue revenue sharing plan, creating this partnership with Genius Sports. Our fans have been begging us to do more to bring in a new generation of fans, and now we have a world class partner to help us with that, so it’s certainly very exciting.

“But you have to look at your product itself, and you have to make sure it does its best to entertain our existing fans and attract new ones. That’s why the fan poll was so important. But it wasn’t just a fan poll. He was looking at the data, and the data was telling us that some positive changes were needed.”

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CFL Governors have also approved changes to increase the pace of the game, which in turn should reduce game time. Chief among these is the addition of a “communications coordinator” on each team bench, connected via a headset to field officials. This will save the referee from having to approach any bench and will make it easier to call time-outs or initiate a call. The involvement of the Command Center will be expanded through decisions on ownership, boundaries and formation. The idea is to eliminate the need for time-consuming and unnecessary coaching tasks to be conducted through the headset.

The league also introduced a misconduct penalty for quarterbacks who pretend to initiate a slide while carrying the ball and will automatically send off any player who incurs two unnecessary rude penalties or two unwanted conduct penalties, or a combination of both, for infractions after the whistle. .

dbarnes@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/sportsdanbarnes

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