"Since you can't beat the Patriots, we'll change the rules" - The NFL
That's basically what the NFL just said. Or at least what the owners decided by voting to make using a player with an eligible number illegal to lineup outside the tackle box as an in-eligible receiver.
The NFL owners officially passed the rule limiting the eligible-ineligible tactics that the #Patriots used against the #Ravens
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 25, 2015
During the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, the Patriots unveiled a formation that left Ravens head coach confused and angry. Calling the formation "clearly deceptive".
Shane Vereen lined up wide but was ineligible. Referee Bill Vinovich announced over the PA system that the Ravens "shouldn't cover 34". Yet they did, leaving Michael Hoomanawanui wide open for a first down. Now under the new rules Vereen could not line up where he did. Instead he would have to be inside the tackle box to be able to be declared ineligible.
This is just another instance of the NFL's biased against the Patriots. So much bias that it shows up in the actual rules of the game and its not the first time. In 2004 after the Patriots beat down Peyton Manning's Colts in the AFC championship game, the rules were changed to make it easier to allow the receivers to get a free release off the line of scrimmage. Why? Because that's how the Patriots beat the Colts. They beat up their receivers and made life difficult for Manning.
This time its taking a gray area of the rule book and making it illegal because Belichick was smart enough to use it to his advantage. The reason it worked so well was the element of surprise. The Ravens never even knew what hit them. Somehow that makes it an unfair advantage. Yet when the Dolphins unveiled the Wildcat on the Patriots, resulting in a beat down that the AFC east hasn't replicated since, it was genius. So much so that the tactics weren't outlawed, they were copied by every single team in the league. Why? Because it was used to beat the Patriots. It took down the king! This was to be the wave of the future! The Dolphins coaching staff was heralded as geniuses and innovative! Praises rained down upon them and they rode that wildcat all the way to a division title. The only one the Patriots haven't won since 2003. The changing of the guard was here.
Yet, in the 2015 playoffs, when the big bad Patriots come out with an innovative formation that has a chance to redefine how defenses have to prepare for an offensive attack, its quickly outlawed before the next season even starts. No other team even has a chance to install similar plays. Belichick and the Patriots staff, instead of being heralded as innovative are called "rule benders" and "always pushing the gray area". Backhanded compliments meant to imply cheating. Some even say the formation and frustration from the Ravens led to the sting operation that became Deflate-Gate.
In the end, the cries are always "why can't the Patriots line up and win without cheating". The answer to that is easy, the decked is stacked against them so they have to find new ways to win. Why can't the rest of the league line up and beat them with out changing the rules? They can't, so they cry to the league and get the rules changed. And guess what, they still can't beat them. The league changes the rules and the Patriots are still one step ahead of everyone.
Eventually Brady and Belichick will retire and then the rest of the league will have a chance at beating the Patriots with out new rules. But until then its the Patriots league, the rest of the teams are just playing in it.
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