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There’s good news as it comes to that largely useless video posted by NFL senior V.P. of officiating Al Riveron regarding the new rule against lowering the helmet and making contact with an opponent: It’s been revised both to ditch the Commodore 64 graphics and, more importantly, to add animation that highlights which player is or isn’t complying with the rule.

Here’s the bad news: It still lacks narration or explanation, making it only slightly less useless than it was. (It’s not clear why Riveron didn’t simply do a video that includes his explanation as to why a given play is or isn’t a foul.)

Here’s my quick assessment of the six plays shown on the video, with the first three not a foul and the last three examples of a violation.

In the first play not involving a foul, Rams safety Steven Parker closes in to make a form tackle. As he approaches the ball carrier, Parker LOWERS HIS HELMET. If the ball carrier had shifted slightly to his right (Parker’s left), Parker would have struck the opponent with the lowered helmet, and it would have been a foul.

In the second, Jets safety J.J. Wilcox approaches the Falcons receiver and Wilcox instinctively LOWERS HIS HELMET. Wilcox actually makes contact against the receiver with the helmet. So why wasn’t it a foul? As the grossly broad lowering-the-helmet rule is written, it should have been.

In the third, Jets cornerback Jeremy Clark makes a form tackle on a kickoff return. Just before impact, Clark LOWERS HIS HELMET. Clark manages to deliver the blow without making contact against the opponent with Clark’s helmet.

As to the two situations that clearly aren’t fouls, the outcome is driven more by happenstance than technique. Basically, Parker and Clark got lucky, in that the opponent didn’t move into the path of the lowered helmet. If they had, it would have been a foul, based on the manner in which the rule is written.

In the first play showing a violation, a Rams defender chases down a ball carrier and, at the point of impact, instinctively dips his helmet and makes contact. Technically, it’s a foul. But what was the player supposed to do differently? There will be many plays in which the defender won’t be able to square up and make a form tackle. If what the defender did in that case is a foul, what could he have done that wouldn’t have been a foul — other than sprint down the field and circle back in the hopes of maybe being able to approach him from the front?

In the second play, Browns tight end Orson Charles goes in motion from right to left before the snap, then goes back to the right and delivers a block that seals the path to the ball carrier. Charles instinctively lowers his helmet and seems to make contact with the helmet against the Giants defender Charles is trying to block. Again, what could he have done differently, other than collide with the defender while standing straight up, and in turn been blown up by the lower man? (An arguably more obviously foul appears on that play, when Giants defensive back Orion Stewart, wearing No. 45, performs a head-down lunge into the ball carrier while he is being tackled.)

The third play represents a mirror image of the second one, with a Saints player moving left to right to block Jaguars defensive lineman Lyndon Johnson, who lowers his helmet just before colliding with the blocker. It happens quickly, but it definitely appears to be a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the rule; Johnson could have at least tried to move his helmet to the side instead of putting his helmet in the blocker’s stomach.

Bottom line? The rule continues to be far too broad, its application will far too often be driven by chance and randomness, and it’s becoming far too late to implement a meaningful fix that requires the blow to be forcible and that carves out any incidental contact that happens while the tackler or blocker is attempting to deliver a hit without making contact with the helmet.

In 22 days, this rule will be applied to games that count.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Colts general manager Chis Ballard showed up for a news conference Wednesday — just not the one he expected.

Instead of introducing Josh McDaniels as the team’s new head coach, Ballard stood in front of reporters trying to explain why New England’s longtime offensive co-ordinator reneged on a deal he initially accepted.
But if Ballard’s disgust about losing his top choice wasn’t clear from the occasional glare or the strong pitch in his voice, he left no doubt with one parting shot.

“The rivalry is back on,” he said before leaving.

Conducting a coaching search in February isn’t what Ballard or Indy envisioned when Chuck Pagano was fired just hours after Indy completed a 4-12 season on Dec. 31.

Exactly 24 hours after announcing McDaniels’ hiring on the team’s Twitter account and roughly 16 hours after he called back to tell Ballard he was out, the search begins anew for the jilted Colts.

Their other finalist, Mike Vrabel, has already taken the Tennessee job. Another top-tier candidate, Mike Nagy, has already been hired in Chicago. Baylor coach Matt Rhule, who also interviewed for the job, is back on campus getting ready for spring football. And it’s unclear where the Colts may turn next.

“We have a list of candidates, I’ve had them from the get-go,” Ballard said. “There are other guys we wanted to interview, but because of the playoffs, we weren’t able to.

“We’ll move forward with them and we will get the right leader for the Indianapolis Colts — one that believes what we believe and wants to go where we want to go. I’m very confident in this.”

Ballard didn’t name names, of course, nor did he provide a timetable.

Oddly, the timing could present Indy with a unique opportunity to pick off a candidate who might emerge as a top candidate on next year’s coaching carousel.

Several possibilities exist including Philadelphia Eagles offensive co-ordinator Frank Reich, who was part of a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots with a backup quarterback.

The good news for Indy is that the only coaching vacancy still looks pretty attractive — if Andrew Luck is healthy.

Indy still has Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton, Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle, a revamped defence that showed major improvement as last season went along, the No. 3 pick in the draft and about $80 million to spend in free agency.

Luck, meanwhile, continues to be the big question as he rehabs from last January’s surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.

Some believe McDaniels’ sudden change of heart was related to doubts about Luck’s health.

Ballard didn’t bother asking McDaniels why he made the decision.

On Wednesday, though, he attempted to alleviate lingering concerns about Luck while acknowledging the franchise quarterback still hasn’t thrown a football since returning from Europe late last year.

“At this point, we feel very strongly that Andrew is in a good place. He doesn’t need surgery,” Ballard said. “I have not gotten that from the two doctors that he’s seen here after the season. His strength is good. He’s working on his throwing motion and he’s working on his arm speed right now. He has not picked up a football, but he is throwing balls, working on arm speed.

“He’s going to do everything right to get himself ready to play and I’m very confident, he’s very confident, that he’s going to come back and prove a lot of people wrong,” Ballard added.

McDaniels decision didn’t just leave the Colts in the lurch.

Three assistant coaches — Matt Eberflus, Mike Phair and Dave DeGuglielmo — had already been hired in Indy.

While Ballard said he likes all three and will honour their contracts by keeping them on the next coach’s staff, others strongly criticized McDaniels from walking away from them.

“Haven’t read the article but I can tell you there is NO excuse big enough to justify this,” Dungy wrote on Twitter in response to a story that indicated McDaniels stayed with the Pats because he was more comfortable with the team.

“It’s one thing to go back on your word to an organization. But having assistant coaches leave jobs to go with you then leave them out to dry is indefensible.”

But as the news conference continued, Ballard said people say no to job offers every day, he wished McDaniels well at the end of Tuesday night’s brief call and that his primary concern now is finding someone who wants the job.

“To me, it’s about being right,” Ballard said. “You’ve got to be right. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first out of the box and everybody praises you or you are the last one to make the hire. We want to be right.”