It only took three weeks, but it sounds like the NFL is already willing to start backtracking on their controversial new definition of “roughing the passer.”
In the first few weeks of the NFL season, there have been numerous complaints that the new rule, which forbids landing on a quarterback with “all or most of your body weight,” are a step too far. Clay Matthews, star pass rusher for the Green Bay Packers, has been flagged numerous times for what look like perfectly normal (and not overly violent) tackles.
“Obviously I don’t agree with it, again,” Matthews said after picking up another flag on Sunday. “Obviously when you’re tackling a guy from the front, you’re gonna land on him…. When you have a hit like that, that’s a football play.”
Former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, now a TV analyst for ESPN, also roasted the new rules on Monday Night Football
“I knew they wanted to make it about the health and safety and protect these quarterbacks but it just seems like we went a little bit too left wing on that with our approach of trying to protect it,” Witten said in the second half of the Steelers-Buccaneers game this week.
Political affiliation aside, there’s a growing outrage from both players and fans that football is turning “soft.” While most people understand the need to protect players in a game that is inherently violent, asking players to not land on an opponent they just tackled is probably a step too far. In fact, Miami Dolphins’ DE William Hayes just suffered a season ending ACL injury trying to do exactly that.
It finally sounds like the NFL is willing to bring the rule back up for discussion.
According to Judy Battista of the NFL Network, the league’s Competition Committee is “uncomfortable” with the way the new rule is being called. The committee is scheduled to have a meeting next week, although it’s unclear if they are planning a drastic mid-season reform of the current rule.
Until then, we’ll probably just even more quarterbacks taking flops over incidental contact. Hey, 15-yards is 15-yards.