We saw an example in the Ticats-Als game of what this rule change will do. A defender deflected the punt, resulting in a nine yard punt. But his momentum carried him into the punter (or he may have been pushed into the punter - not sure), and he was flagged for Roughing the Kicker. In the past, this would have been considered a great play by the defender.
What will be the impact of this rule change? Have we seen the end of punt blocking? Or will defenders just start to take a slightly different angle to avoid running straight into the punter?
I'm curious what people think of this rule change. Do you support it or not?
Hitting the plant leg of the kicker, in any scenario, is very dangerous for the kicker. That doesn’t seem much more dangerous than something like a low hit on a defenseless receiver, and that gets penalized, no matter the outcome of the play, or if the defender touched the ball. It’s consistent with that type of play. Knocking the punter in the upper body after blocking the kick is okay, because there is less of a potential for a really bad knee or ankle injury. Hitting the plant leg should completely be illegal, but I don’t think that the kicking team should keep the ball. Hitting the kicker’s plant leg is dangerous, but never really malicious, and in choosing to kick, the punting team is conceding possession of the ball.
As far as the impact on punt blocking, punt blocks are too impactful a play to have the defense not try for one, but with the new rule, they will have to change how they do it. Even a guy rushing in from the middle can get a clean block by either twisting on the dive, and rolling out of the way after he gets a hand on the ball, or by jumping more vertically, and less horizontally, in order to lessen the chance of a low hit.
In the example you give of the HAM-MTL game, I do believe that a tipped kick going past the line is treated as a normal punt, so any roughing the kicker stands, even with the old rule (maybe this rule is only in amateur though?)
Too bad I can’t add a third option - wanting a different rule. In this case, a 15 yard penalty applied to the end result of the play. Sounds reasonable, as the punt has already taken place by the time of the contact.
This would then mean that you could kick it to a teammate behind the line? Would this be considered just a live ball, or a pass? Would make for an interesting trick play. I didn't know about the whole "possession doesn't change" aspect. Does this mean that an illegal block while the punt was in the air leads to a first down for the kicking team also??