Change will affect Pats no-huddle

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have one of the NFL's most lethal no-huddle attacks. Much like the Indianapolis Colts, they use it to control tempo and keep defenses on their heels at various points in the game.

Yet the NFL's rule change of moving the umpire to the offensive backfield could slow these no-huddle offenses down.

That was the main message I came away with after listening to back judge Billy Smith speak with media members today at Gillette Stadium.

The reason the no-huddle offenses could be slowed down is that umpires will now be about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, behind the quarterback. They used to be about 7-10 yards on the other side of the line of scrimmage, putting them in better position to spot the ball quickly.

The change will be in effect for all offensive plays, except for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, and figures to have a major impact on teams like the Patriots and Colts, slowing them down.

"Let's say an umpire is seven yards back on the defensive side, and you have a play for no gain, he walks up seven yards, spots the ball and backs out," Smith said. "But now, he has to come in 15, spot it, and then back out 15."

I think this will be one of the main areas Bill Belichick will want his offense to focus on over the next three days with officials in town.