1 yard neutral zone at LOS

All CFL rules makes sense and one thing I do not understand why defensive line must be behind one yard to the ball from sideline to sideline. Is there any reasoning behind this? Doesn't the defensive line have the right to defend their territory behind the ball, not one yard behind the ball?

3rd and inches seems to be a gimme due to the one yard neutral zone between offensive line and defensive line. In the NFL, the one yard neutral zone do not apply in all situations. My only pet peeve of the great CFL game is the 3rd and inches in which seems to be 99.9% first down conversions.

It happens more often than you think 3rd and inches a team doesn't get a first down, I'd say 15 percent of the time thereabouts. We have 3 downs in the game, not 4 which is easier of course, so with just 3 downs 3rd and inches or 3rd and one should be a bit easier than 4th with the defensive line right on the line of scrimaage, well, at the tip of the ball.

Other than that, it's part of the long history of Canadian football.

I tend to think of myself as a bit of an expert on the historical origins of Canadian football and its many nuances.

I have to admit, I know nothing about the 1 yard neutral zone or why it differs from American football. I'd be curious to find out.

I dont know why either, but I do see an advantage as I think it is easier to the refs to see offside and procedure violations.

To me, it’s there to facilitate offenses moving the ball, in order to compensate for the lack of an extra down. With four downs, you can grind out those short yards even with the defense stacked right up on the line. In three-down football, you need that one-yard cushion to prevent an endless series of two-and-outs. IMO it’s the same reason why there is unlimited backfield motion in the CFL.

I find with the extra yard it is easier for defenses to sack the qb

Canadian football instituted the "line of scrimmage" in 1880, differentiating our game from Rugby's "scrum" method of putting the ball into play. As far as I know there's always been a 1 yd restraining zone at the LOS.

A recent study showed that CFL lineman suffer about half as many concussions as NFL linemen. They attributed this to the 1 yd zone which reduced the head-on-head contact.

For the three down game that is the CFL this is a great rule and as someone has stated it is not always as easy as it may seem and brings a lot of excitement and strategy to the CFL. What part of the field do teams try to go for it, should they take the field goal or risk the chance to come away with nothing as it is very very temping to go for. It has also evolved into a specialist spot for QBs some are good at it and could mean the difference to getting a roster spot much like being a good holder. It will be one of those things that you may see the ever improving Canadian QBs looking to master as often times in the CIS the starting QB may be left in there to handle the 3rd and short duties with the Jumbo team.

If you notice in the nfl, the only only one that lines up nose to nose is the centre, most of the time all the other offensive linemen line up behind the ball usualy about a yard, so its the centre that is usually nose to nose not the other linemen !!

NFL you need a avg 3.3 yards to get a 1st down
CFL you need to avg 5 yards to get a 1st down

The leagues are different stop comparing, Europeans play on a bigger ice surface in hockey why dont they narrow the boards and be like the NHL.

By being different we have developed players like Cam wake a DE his whole career by playing on a wider field was able to showcase his speed and pursue on open field tackling and was converted to OLB in the NFL without the CFL his career would have died who would have thought to play him in that position before the CFL so nit pick the CFL all you want but its populating the version of football you all love so much, more and more and more.

Interesting stat, but one would think that:
a 1 yard gap allows more time before impact
more duration equates to a greater total acceleration
acceleration x mass = force
or look at the g-force F = G m1 m2 / d^2

any way you look at it...more acceleration equates to a higher impact, so the average impact is greater in the CFL off the line. That said, I would think that because the bodies have a better chance of being upright during impact instead of more head to head it would likely help reduce the injuries.

To my knowledge the 1 yard rule exists because of the forward-in-motion rules. A receiver is actually allowed to be up to 1 yard beyond the LOS prior to snap IF they are in motion This would not always possible if the defender was within that yard.

I suggest that you reread the offside rule (Rule 4, Section 2, Article 3). An offensive player is offside if any part of his body is across the line of scrimmage, with the only exception being the centre whose hands and head are allowed to be over the line. What you may be thinking of is that if a receiver is more than a yard over the line, the play is immediately blown dead.

I think depop was referring to the refs allowing receivers to be beyond the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. While technically illegal they don't normally call the play offside if the receiver hasn't stepped in the 1 yd restraining zone but part of his body is over the line. The reason is that it's extremely difficult for the refs to ascertain exactly when the receiver crosses the line when he's running at full speed, he's a blur. You would need a "photo-finish" of every snap to get the call right every time, so they generally don't a penalty unless it's flagrant or the receiver steps across the line before the ball is snapped.

I believe there is less head to head contact between the lineman in Canadian football. With the 1-yd restraining zone it is often the lineman's arms which make first contact, not butting heads like in American ball...which may account for the fewer concussions in the CFL. LB's and RB's normally butt heads on every block and tackle in both leagues.

And if you watch frame-by-frame, and watch the initial ball movement rather than the motion of the line or the QB getting the ball, you'll see that most of the time, the receivers are actually onside at the snap. Barely onside, but onside nevertheless. Occasionally the officials miss a close one, but not often.

And while I am not a football official and have never been a linesman, I suspect that it's not really as difficult to make the call as you might think. Here's how I see it working. The two linesmen in charge of the call are standing on (or near) the line of scrimmage on opposite sides of the field, both staring at the ball. If either one see a player between them and the ball before the ball moves, it's offside. Their peripheral vision would warn them of any receiver approaching the line, so they wouldn't even have to watch the players that closely; the blur would be enough. Add in a number of years of experience at all levels of football, and instinct takes over.

I am very aware of the rule...

"within one yard of the line of scrimmage when the ball" this is really grey, because all it says is within one yard of LOS...does not say which side. Don't get me wrong, I have always felt that if if a player breaks that plane before the snap it should, in my eyes, be offside, but that is not how this article/rule is applied for some reason...but how it was always explained to me when playing is that officials are 'generally' instructed that a good rule of thumb is that if a receiver is in forward motion, 5 or more yards outside of the tackles, that as long as their rear foot is at/behind the LOS at snap it is all good. A super long stride might change a refs opinion of this...like is said...really grey area

My assumption is that the rule is applied as such to provide leeway for officiating. NFL refs don't have to deal with this motion so it is pretty cut and dry for them, and it is all happening pretty fast...very tough to make/not make the call if there is not a cushion.

You will also hear the commentators on TSN talk about this one yard cushion a couple times per year...when they are explaining that yes...such and such a player is almost always passing the LOS prior to snap, and it is clear they are, but that it is legal. There are a small handful of players who seem to be pretty good at lining up their stride and timing to get that extra edge.

I always thought that this was a clarification (actually a rule change) to the rule that says players within a yard of the line of scrimmage are considered to be line players, and therefore must be motionless (Rule 4, Section 1, Article 2). Without this clarification, not only would there be a penalty for illegal procedure, but only the two outermost of these players, the "ends", would be eligible receivers.

Not entirely sure I follow as to why the ends would be the only eligible receivers. I sorta see where you are going, but it is not entirely clicking for me.

  • 'The line' does consist of anyone within 1 yard of LOS (and must be at least 7 players)
  • 5 of 'the line' players must be in a continuous line (tackle to tackle)
  • these 5 players are ineligible
  • if you have a Line that has more than 5 continuous players you can declare those extra players as eligible...so if you have 6 linemen in short yardage or something you often see one get declared as eligible.
  • players outside of that (tight end) are eligible, even if on the LOS. You can have a WR right on the sideline be on the line and part of the 7 players on the LOS. Also, many seem unaware...a TE is generally on the LOS off the tackle, a SB will generally be offset...though now adays they generally lump them all as SBs it is not technically the correct term...depending on how they line up.
  • you are absolutely correct...anyone on the LOS must be motionless. but just because they are on the LOS it does not mean they are part of 'The Line' (tackle to tackle).
  • what I posted earlier (bottom of "Article 4 – Eligibility Of Receiver"...section 4) also is a clarification on backfield players allowing to be in forward motion at the LOS and not be considered part of the 7 mandatory LOW players. It allows "backfield" players to approach the line in motion, and yet not be a part of that (thereby overriding the illegal motion)...this is the rule that the NFL does not have in place that I eluded to earlier...the one that means the refs their don't need to deal with grey area...the line is black and white for them.

Thought I would pull it right from the book:

Article 1 – Seven Players On Line At the instant the ball is put in play, at least seven players of Team A must be within one yard, and on their [b]own side of the line of scrimmage[/b]. This does not include the player in the position usually occupied by the quarterback. Conversely, Team A can never have more than five players, including the quarterback, in backfield positions.
[b]I never thought of this before, but I suppose this also contributes to the grey area of in motion players being allowed that yard of grace, as it only refers to LOS players, not backfield players[/b]
Article 3 – Identification & Positions On all scrimmage plays at least five line players, including the centre, shall be identified as ineligible pass receivers and must be positioned in a continuous, unbroken line. In addition, one player at each end of the line shall be identified as an eligible pass receiver.

Any other Team A player is an eligible pass receiver, if so identified by playing number
and, at the snap of the ball, is occupying a backfield position at least one yard back
of the line of scrimmage.


above is where it states that only 5 of the 7 line players are ineligible (tackle to tackle). The rule book actually refers to these 5 as the scrimmage linemen.

as far as why receivers who are sometimes part of the 7 mandatory players on the LOS can get way with turning their heads, moving arms, etc...that only applies to the 5 scrimmage players (tackle to tackle) as they are not in a stance.

Article 2 – Stance No line player of Team A, except the centre, having assumed a three-point or fourpoint stance, may legally move the head, body, arms, hand, legs or feet until the ball is snapped.
Article 3 – Offside At The Snap Team A players must be completely behind the line of scrimmage, except that the head, arms and hands of the centre may be in advance of the line of scrimmage. If a Team A player clearly crosses the line of scrimmage by more than one yard, prior to the snap of the ball, the officials shall stop the play immediately and apply a penalty.
The above applies to LOS players, not backfield players...so yeah...those 7 (min) players have no cushion of grace. And below is for backfield players (non LOS players)...the grey area part mentioned earlier...allows for overriding of illegal procedure for these guys when in motion, and gives the grey area of the grace yard.
bottom of "Article 4 – Eligibility Of Receiver"...section 4 wrote: NOTE: Notwithstanding paragraph (a) of Article 4, a Team A player wearing an eligible receiver number, who is in forward motion from a backfield position and within one yard of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped and who crosses the line of scrimmage at a point at least five yards beyond the offensive tackle position, shall remain eligible as a pass receiver.
Interesting topic. The CFL rule book definitely has a few areas that are not so black and white. This, and some of the Rouge /other single points are definitely at the top of the list.

Yes, it looks like I misinterpreted the rule about the ends, that there can be more than two eligible receivers on the line. But the other part of my post, that the clarification allows eligible receivers lined up in the backfield to be in forward motion within a yard at the snap, which according to Rule 4, Section 5, Article 4 would otherwise be illegal. What I don't think it allows is a receiver to cross the line of scrimmage before the snap. And as I said earlier, watching frame-by-frame shows that the receivers are almost always at or behind the line at the snap.

(Sorry, but my tablet doesn't allow copy&paste from a pdf; otherwise, I'd have quoted the rules rather than referencing them.)

:rockin: