ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Amid the rules changes and points of emphasis presented in a video shown to players and coaches this week, the NFL wants to make one point above all clear for 2015: don't get into fights.
Embarrassed by the fracas in the dying moments of the Patriots' Super Bowl XLIX win over the Seahawks, the video shown by referee Jeff Triplette to the Broncos and the 31 other teams highlights that incident, along with other unruly scrums. Fines will be assessed to players who just happen to be "in the area" of a fight.
"Peacemaking won't be accepted as an excuse for entering the area," warned the video, which featured NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent and covered all the rules tweaks.
Much has been made of the impact of changes to the placekicked point-after-touchdown, and Triplette noted that a second video was made regarding PAT tweaks, including the impact of keeping the football in play after a blocked kick or a turnover on a two-point conversion attempt. Triplette screened that video for media that cover the Broncos on Friday after practice; it was nearly as long as the video covering all the other rules changes, and included an explanation of the possibility of a 1-point safety on a conversion attempt.
Among the other key points and rules tweaks:
... Earl Thomas's hit on Wes Welker during the fourth quarter of the Broncos' 26-20 loss at Seattle last September was shown as an example of the additional protection provided to an intended receiver who is defenseless. No penalty was assessed, and the play was considered legal under last year's rules, because Welker was not considered "defenseless." Now, a receiver in his position will be.
The penalty is 15 yards for unnecessary roughness; in that instance, it would have been half the distance to the Seahawks' goal line based on the location of Kam Chancellor's interception. Under the new rules, the Seahawks would have taken possession at their 7-yard-line instead of the Denver 35.
... Peel-back blocks are now a 15-yard penalty. Players will have to watch low blocks in which they are moving back toward their end zone as a result.
... On punt-rush plays, you can no longer push teammates into the punt-protection formation. This was already prohibited on field-goal attempts, but now expands to punts.
... Games will be stopped if a player "exhibits obvious signs of disorientation" and is not pulled from the game by team medical personnel. A concussion spotter will be stationed in the press box to monitor players for any potential signs of concussions.
... Cowboys WR Dez Bryant's non-catch from their divisional-round loss at Green Bay last Jan. 11 was cited as an example of a play that is still not a catch because control of the ball did not endure until he landed on the ground. The play was shown from three angles to underscore the NFL's point on the matter.