Flag on the play

Roughing the passer has made the NFL gone soft

By on October 9, 2018

Football is a game where men are willing to put their bodies on the line in order to win a Super Bowl championship. But the NFL has gone too far with the the new changes they have made to roughing the passer rule.

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The new rule states, “Any physical acts against a player who is in a passing posture (i.e. before, during, or after a pass) which, in the Referee’s judgment, are unwarranted by the circumstances of the play will be called as fouls,” according to operations.nfl.com.

Although the rule is in place to help protect the safety of players, it has only hurt the integrity of the game. Take for example, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. He was flagged two weeks in a row for roughing the passer.

Matthews’ primary job is to rush the quarterback and take him to the ground. That’s exactly what he did in week 1 against Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. But, NFL official Tony Corrente feels differently as per an article on CBSSports.com.

“It has nothing to do with the rule of full body weight,” Corrente explained after the game. “It has nothing to do with helmet to helmet. He picked the quarterback up and drove him into the ground.”

Now, I was willing to give Corrente a pass, as he is a human and all humans aren’t perfect. But the trend continued as the Packers traveled to Washington D.C. to play the Redskins. Matthews was going for a sack against quarterback Alex Smith when Matthews drove Smith to the ground once more and was flagged yet again for roughing the passer.

In a article by the Associated Press, referee Craig Wrolstad explains why he flagged Matthews.

“I had judged that the defender landed on the quarterback, when he was tackling him, with most or all of his body weight, and that’s not allowed,” Wrolstad said, according to a pool report. “That was basically my key — that he landed on him with most or all of his body weight.”

Now, The NFL has already limited ways that defensive players can tackle. They don’t want them going below the waste due to the Tom Brady injury in 2007 versus the Kansas City Chiefs that cost him an entire season. They don’t want players going above the shoulders due to the danger of concussions. The question begs, how does the NFL expect defensive players to tackle?

Packers head coach Mike Mccarthy was on Matthews’ side, according to the Associated Press, and is confused with how the rule is supposed to help the NFL.

“I think Clay did exactly what he’s supposed to do there,” McCarthy said. “He hit him with his shoulder. He was coming full speed off of a block. He braced himself. So I was fine with what Clay did.”

Matthews has also taken a stance on the new rule, according to 247sports.com, that he doesn’t know where the league is trying to go with this rule.

“If I wanted to hurt him, I could have,” Matthews added. “But that’s football. Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction a lot of people don’t like. I think they’re getting soft.”

The new roughing the passer rule is making more of an impact than just annoying coaches and players. It’s also hurting the ratings of the NFL, as the NFL, just like any other business, is trying to make a profit.

What is also interesting to me is that the NFL competition committee stands with Matthews. They seem to be big proponents of player safety and one would think they would be in favor of this new rule. But, they want less penalties called in order to progress the game.

What people love about football is the unique aspect of players being able to hit one another. As with basketball, it’s a non-contact sport, with baseball is using gloves and bats as your offense and defense, hockey you can still hit, but the NHL has cracked down on player fighting.

According to a chart on awfulannouncing.com, 7,006 adults between the ages of 18 to 49 watched the NFL through week 8 in 2016. In 2018, opening night between the Atlanta Falcons and Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles drew 19 million viewers. Now this may seem like it is not a big deal, but compared to 2017 it’s a 13 percent decline.

My stance on the issue isn’t to abolish all of the rules the NFL put in place and have most players injured. I just don’t want to see a league that has given me so much joy over the past 19 years continue on this downward slide where it’s no longer looked at as a unique sport.

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