Posted by Andy Benoit
The NFL just sent the CBS NFL Facts & Rumors Blog an outline of the changes made to the umpire positioning. The league is hoping to fix the many kinks that were discovered in the preseason with the relocation of the umpires to the backfield. We'll find out in two days how it goes.
Here's what the league wrote:
In a memo to clubs today, NFL Vice President of Officiating Carl Johnson confirmed the following regarding the implementation of the decision to move the Umpire to a position in the offensive backfield.
1. Umpires will be lined up no more than 12 yards from the line of scrimmage. At the beginning of the preseason, they were approximately 15 yards back.
2. The Umpire must be beyond the deepest offensive player before the offense can legally snap the ball. Originally, the ball could not be snapped until the Umpire had assumed his position.
3. A line of scrimmage official (either the Head Linesman or Line Judge) will signal when a legal snap is permitted. The original procedure required the quarterback to check with the Referee. The official will signal when the Umpire (or the Referee, if that is the case) is even with the deepest player.
4. Umpires will assume a position on the defensive side of the ball after the two-minute warning of the second quarter and inside five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, instead of after the two-minute warning of each half.
5. Umpires will assume a position on the defensive side of the ball when the offense is at or inside the defensive five-yard line. For potential scoring plays near the goal line, it is useful for the Umpire to be operating in close proximity to the line of scrimmage.
6. Since this is a change in mechanics, the Referee has the authority to warn the offense that it could be penalized for an illegal snap for future action. This is similar to other situations in which warnings may be issued (i.e., tackles not on the line of scrimmage, etc.). However, in the event of a clear violation, a foul will be called without warning.
In addition, the referees and umpires will meet on Friday in Dallas to review the preseason and the mechanics of the umpire position (A conference call will be held with the referee and umpire in advance of Thursday night’s game to review the same material).
As a reminder, the most important factor in considering the move of the Umpire to the offensive backfield is the safety of the Umpire.
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