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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Report: NFL rule-makers ‘uncomfortable’ with roughing the passer calls

Roger Goodell

The debate over what constitutes roughing the passer has dominated the early portion of the NFL season, and the people in charge of making and amending rules for the league sound like they are starting to second-guess themselves.

Judy Battista of NFL.com reports that there are several members of the NFL’s Competition Committee who are “uncomfortable” with the amount of flags thrown for roughing the passer through the first three weeks of the season. It’s possible a change to the rule could be coming, but league officials are concerned about the optics of walking back a rule they implemented for safety reasons.

As Battista noted, members of the committee are particularly troubled by the roughing the passer calls against Clay Matthews. The Packers linebacker has been flagged in each of the first three games, and the two most recent baffled football fans and players. While the new rule states that a defender cannot land with his body weight on a quarterback, it’s hard to tell how Matthews could have avoided that with his sack of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith on Sunday. The same was true when he sacked Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins with what most felt was a textbook football hit the week before, and that personal foul negated an interception that likely would have sealed a win for Green Bay.

Four flags were thrown for roughing the passer in Monday night’s game between the Steelers and Buccaneers, and those four calls were tied for the most in an NFL game since 2001. Even Ben Roethlisberger said he was “surprised” by the first call that benefitted his team, and he’s not the first star quarterback to express concern over the rule change.

While the NFL wants to prove that safety is a top priority, you can understand the concern over how much negative attention the roughing the passer changes have garnered.

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