Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks

Do NFL rules benefit offenses or defenses?

Recently a conversation began of whom the rules of the NFL benefit more: the offense or the defense. In a recent episode of "The Herd", Colin Cowherd's morning show, he discussed whether the NFL rules are in favor of the offense. It was a response to former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf, who insinuated that quarterbacks of this era are "divas."


Cowherd's response was that the NFL has changed throughout the last twenty-five years and that safety has forced rule changes. Some of these rule changes are meant to help keep the quarterback safe. But by making rule changes to benefit safety, have the rules leaned toward benefiting one side more than the other.

Does the NFL penalize the offense or defense more?

When evaluating whether the offense or defense benefits from the NFL rules, the first rule is pass interference. Within the last few seasons, the NFL can now review both offensive and defensive pass interference. With that comes more penalties on offense than in previous years.

But there are still more calls on defenders for passive interference than there are on receivers. In fact, in 2019, according to, for every seven defensive pass interference calls, there were just two offensive pass interference calls.

The point that Colin Cowherd made was that quarterbacks are pretty much off limits in today's NFL. Even in NCAA football, if a player intentionally hits another player, especially with their helmet, then they can be ejected from the game and suspended for the next game.


Just this week, NFL owners agreed to a new rule that now prohibits blocking from the waist down. The rule is mainly to protect players from the gruesome leg, ankle and knee injuries that have been suffered over the past few seasons.

Some could even say that this rule, along with others, benefits special teams more than they do defense. A punter or kicker cannot be knocked down while attempting their kick/punt. There are even designated rules for when a returner is in place to make the catch.

All in all, the NFL rules do seem to benefit the offense more so than the defense. However, in the NFL's defense, it is to make the game safer as a whole. This goes for players on both sides of the ball, the ones taking the hit and the ones making the hit.

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