Clay Matthews Sacks Alex Smith


NFL Attempts To Clarify Controversial Roughing-The-Passer Penalties

September 27, 2018 - 2:41 pm


Much has been made this season about the changes to the roughing-the-passer rule that were instituted in the offseason by the NFL. The reaction to the increase in controversial penalties has been overwhelmingly negative, and the league has taken notice.

NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent released a statement Thursday attempting to clarify the issue.

There was some hope that the rule would be changed mid-season, but that doesn’t appear to be happening. Again, the league justified the offseason alteration by reiterating its desire to protect quarterbacks.

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That statement was followed up with a video that attempted to show the difference between legal and illegal hits on the quarterback.

The video is supposed to “ensure consistency”, but some players might find it tough to really differentiate between the hits that are said to be legal and those that are said to be penalties.

Most notably, Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews has been penalized under this body weight provision of the rule. Last week he was flagged after sacking Redskins’ quarterback Alex Smith from the front, and the previous week he was flagged for a similar hit on Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins. Both calls were met with widespread confusion and criticism, hence this attempt at clarification from the league.

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None of the examples of legal hits in the video show a quarterback being hit from the front, but plenty of the illegal hits do.

It’s only Week 4 and this issue has already sparked confusion and changed games. If Matthews hadn’t been penalized in the Vikings’ game, the Packers probably would have held on for a win and avoided the final result of a tie.

Expect to hear a lot more about these controversial roughing-the-passer calls as the NFL season goes on.