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Old 12-11-2012   #1
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Default Illegal formation

Do you know what that means? I've heard it explained a time or two, but it's not something I keep in my mental bank. It's not something we're guilty of often, so I don't have to reference it often. However, last night I heard it called on Duane Brown and I needed to refresh my memory. I know this will end up being a Texans conversation, but I'm not bringing it here as a Texans' issue. I'd like to understand this rule, what's it's purpose, & why it happens.

Now I don't know if this is all inclusive, but this sight lists two reasons why illegal formation can be called.
  1. You have less than 7 men on the LOS
  2. You do not have 5 people with numbers between 50 & 79 on the LOS



They called the penalty on 76, but it was actually 83 who was not lined up on the line. That's 81 lined up as the H-back, 86 in the slot (looks like he's trying to tell someone to get on the line) & 80 down at the bottom.
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Old 12-11-2012   #2
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Default Re: Illegal formation

What they said was 76 was uncovered which means 83 was not far enough forward. It was a stupid call. The rule as written v. practiced is absurd - nobody but the center is on the LOS typically.
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Old 12-11-2012   #3
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Default Re: Illegal formation

Walter is a clear step off the line of scrimmage (however you want to define it). you should be able to draw a straight line from Andre Johnson to kevin Walter and that does not work. WRs can and do ask the line-judge if they need to inch up a bit. No excuse for the "guy who does all the little things well."
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Old 12-11-2012   #4
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Default Re: Illegal formation

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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTexan View Post
Walter is a clear step off the line of scrimmage (however you want to define it). you should be able to draw a straight line from Andre Johnson to kevin Walter and that does not work. WRs can and do ask the line-judge if they need to inch up a bit. No excuse for the "guy who does all the little things well."
While I agree with this (and have mentioned AJ always doing it and then was disputed that every WR does it which is BS) I don't get the rule which is why I called it stupid. #1 - Walter being back a yard gives him no advantage. #2 how are there not 5 ineligible receivers not on the line and #3 if we are being literal, there is only one person on the line? - AJ is a full yard back from the ball.

Every team in the league uses the staggered center formation. Sometimes you see a stagger from C to G and then G to T. The other four OLmen are clearly behind the center. How is that on the line?
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Old 12-11-2012   #5
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Default Re: Illegal formation

We should've gotten 6 illegal formation penalties.
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Old 12-11-2012   #6
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Default Re: Illegal formation

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Originally Posted by infantrycak View Post
While I agree with this (and have mentioned AJ always doing it and then was disputed that every WR does it which is BS) I don't get the rule which is why I called it stupid. #1 - Walter being back a yard gives him no advantage. #2 how are there not 5 ineligible receivers not on the line and #3 if we are being literal, there is only one person on the line? - AJ is a full yard back from the ball.

Every team in the league uses the staggered center formation. Sometimes you see a stagger from C to G and then G to T. The other four OLmen are clearly behind the center. How is that on the line?
The reason the center is further up is that he allowed to technically be in the neurtral zone by holding/snapping the ball. The space (from sideline to sideline) the ball occupies is considered the neutral zone. Even having a hand in this zone (by offense or defense) is considered off-sides. The OLmen are actually on the line of scrimmage and center is the off one.

On the WRs, way back when football used to have seven olmen with the two on either side being called end and those were allowed to catch passes. Football has never changed that from yester year.

You are going lawyer on something that functionally everyone understands (the english dude side of me agrees with poorly worded)
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Old 12-11-2012   #7
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Default Re: Illegal formation

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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTexan View Post
The reason the center is further up is that he allowed to technically be in the neurtral zone by holding/snapping the ball. The space (from sideline to sideline) the ball occupies is considered the neutral zone. Even having a hand in this zone (by offense or defense) is considered off-sides. The OLmen are actually on the line of scrimmage and center is the off one.

On the WRs, way back when football used to have seven olmen with the two on either side being called end and those were allowed to catch passes. Football has never changed that from yester year.

You are going lawyer on something that functionally everyone understands (the english dude side of me agrees with poorly worded)
Ummm, not buying the first assertion. The nose of the ball is on the line of scrimmage. Unless you can show a rule I know of none which says the OL has to be a half to a yard back. The neutral zone is defined as the length of the football. But yes slightly lawyerly - the rule should be worded as not lined up on the NZ since technically you are not allowed to line up on the LOS.

In any event, it should have been a non-call IMO. Lots of OT's line up back from the OG's when facing fast pass rushers. Either call it all the time or don't jack with something like Walter putting himself at a DISadvantage.
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Old 12-11-2012   #8
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Originally Posted by ArlingtonTexan View Post
The reason the center is further up is that he allowed to technically be in the neurtral zone by holding/snapping the ball. The space (from sideline to sideline) the ball occupies is considered the neutral zone. Even having a hand in this zone (by offense or defense) is considered off-sides. The OLmen are actually on the line of scrimmage and center is the off one.
That's not accurate.

Linemen are taught to line up like that so you have room to operate when the ball is snapped. You can pull, pass set, or move laterally...or have more room to fire off.

Also, you will notice that in short yardage situations linemen will move further up and crowd the ball and there's no penalty.

They crowd the ball because when you need a yard or an inch you don't want to concede any ground.
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Old 12-11-2012   #9
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Default Re: Illegal formation

http://www.nfl.com/rulebook/definitions

Neutral Zone: The space the length of a ball between the two scrimmage lines. The offensive team and defensive team must remain behind their end of the ball.
Exception: The offensive player who snaps the ball.
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Old 12-11-2012   #10
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While I agree with this (and have mentioned AJ always doing it and then was disputed that every WR does it which is BS) I don't get the rule which is why I called it stupid. #1 - Walter being back a yard gives him no advantage. #2 how are there not 5 ineligible receivers not on the line and #3 if we are being literal, there is only one person on the line? - AJ is a full yard back from the ball.

Every team in the league uses the staggered center formation. Sometimes you see a stagger from C to G and then G to T. The other four OLmen are clearly behind the center. How is that on the line?
No that's not what was said. I said lots of wr's do what Aj does. You were trying to make it sound like he was doing something super special, when it is common practice. Kids in highschool do it all the time. It's something they are taught to do when up on the line to make sure they are good.

The call at the time was nit picking...they could have just given a warning...
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Old 12-11-2012   #11
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Default Re: Illegal formation

Quote:
Originally Posted by infantrycak View Post
Ummm, not buying the first assertion. The nose of the ball is on the line of scrimmage. Unless you can show a rule I know of none which says the OL has to be a half to a yard back. The neutral zone is defined as the length of the football. But yes slightly lawyerly - the rule should be worded as not lined up on the NZ since technically you are not allowed to line up on the LOS.

In any event, it should have been a non-call IMO. Lots of OT's line up back from the OG's when facing fast pass rushers. Either call it all the time or don't jack with something like Walter putting himself at a DISadvantage.
I won't argue the idea of an advantage or not, but as followed walter is clearly in violation of the rule. also, OLT do get called for leaning to far back off the line of scrimmage (probably not as much s they should by the "rule").
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Old 12-11-2012   #12
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Default Re: Illegal formation

It does seem like starting a game right off just trying to frustrate the visiting team, but that's why we need HFA. Referees are punks.
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Old 12-11-2012   #13
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Default Re: Illegal formation

This whole formation rule is stupid. Just make it 5 men at the LOS on offense and let the other team do whatever they want. There is no advantage to having 6 guys in the backfield, why the hell do they require 7 on the line? It's pointless in today's NFL and it's just another ticky tack rule that makes the game bog down.
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Old 12-11-2012   #14
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Default Re: Illegal formation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rey View Post
No that's not what was said. I said lots of wr's do what Aj does. You were trying to make it sound like he was doing something super special, when it is common practice. Kids in highschool do it all the time. It's something they are taught to do when up on the line to make sure they are good.
And your reference to HS kids is as irrelevant as it was then. I said AJ was unusual, not super special - no cape involved, for doing it and it is true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArlingtonTexan View Post
I won't argue the idea of an advantage or not, but as followed walter is clearly in violation of the rule. also, OLT do get called for leaning to far back off the line of scrimmage (probably not as much s they should by the "rule").
Agreed although I agree with Rey that this would normally be dealt with by the ref warning Walter instead of throwing a flag, especially a 1st down removing flag.
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Old 12-11-2012   #15
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Default Re: Illegal formation

I do know it's easier for a Receiver to get off the LOS if he is not on it. If the CB is jamming it makes it harder to get a hand him.
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Old 12-11-2012   #16
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Default Re: Illegal formation

There's an article out there about Tebow's TD a year or two ago.
You can google something like illegal formation to pull it up.

The second TE lined up with his feet right about where Walter's were.

Mike Pereira says it's normal.
The league office also had a statement saying that it was not illegal formation.

They really need to get these things clear; otherwise, the refs can just do as they damn please.

That Article also mentioned a play in the Bengals-Texans play-off game when no call was made on a similar formation.
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Old 12-12-2012   #17
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Default Re: Illegal formation

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Originally Posted by Dutchrudder View Post
This whole formation rule is stupid. Just make it 5 men at the LOS on offense and let the other team do whatever they want. There is no advantage to having 6 guys in the backfield, why the hell do they require 7 on the line? It's pointless in today's NFL and it's just another ticky tack rule that makes the game bog down.

I agree completely. I'm not sure how, why, or when this rule came into affect but it's got to be one of the dumbest and least applicable rules in the modern NFL.
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Old 12-12-2012   #18
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Default Re: Illegal formation

The rule (as applied in HS ball) is that the HAND of each person on the LOS must pass between the neutral zone and the leg of the center.

In other words, if you were to draw a straight line from the hip of the center straight down to the ground--perpendicular...as long as the hand of the guard, tackle, tight end, etc. is in front of that line and behind the neutral zone--then they are "on the line of scrimmage" and not off.

I see illegal formation ALL THE TIME in the NFL, and as Cak pointed out--it's the staggered line. And it DOES allow the lineman to gain an advantage; particularly if you're pass blocking. It gives you an extra step or two to anticipate the move. I know that it sounds foolish to most, but it actually does allow an unfair advantage to the OL.

I've had coaches try and convince me (in HS games) that as long as the hand of the tight end is in front of the leg of the tackle...and the tackle is in front of the guard...and the guard intersects the center's leg...then it's legal. Bologna!

Now with that said, I'm not familiar w/the way the NFL rule is written, so take it fwiw.
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Old 12-12-2012   #19
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Default Re: Illegal formation

Yeah, but Walter is a receiver and it was a run play that went the other way.
Walter didn't gain any advantage in blocking or anything; he wasn't involved in the play.

And if the refs normally don't call it, why do it now?
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Old 12-12-2012   #20
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Default Re: Illegal formation

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Yeah, but Walter is a receiver and it was a run play that went the other way.
Walter didn't gain any advantage in blocking or anything; he wasn't involved in the play.

And if the refs normally don't call it, why do it now?
Because it's Foxboro and Tom Brady is the home-field QB.
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