NFL could implement new roughing-the-passer change

2 min read

Roughing the passer penalties in the NFL has been a hot topic over the past few years, and there have been several plays to showcase why that is. Defenders have argued that it’s near impossible to tackle the quarterback in the manner that the league wants consistently, and the harsh punishments of the penalty only make it worse. Defenses get a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down to crush the hearts of defenders and jump-start offenses. The league has heard the complaints and is considering adding a change.

One NFL team that is currently unknown has proposed a rule that would make all roughing-the-passer calls reviewable by replay. This would be reminiscent of the time when teams were able to challenge pass-interference penalties during games. However, that rule didn’t pan out because referees usually stick to what they call on the field unless it is abundantly evident. Already it has been reported that this new roughing-the-passer rule isn’t expected to get passed. The owners are expected to vote on it during their Annual League Meeting in March, but the support isn’t showing up yet. These members returned to search through 80 plays involving roughing the passer call. They wanted to try and determine which were considered questionable and which were determined good to call. Only three of those 80 plays were found to be “questionable” in the eyes of the committee. For fans, this might not be the statistic that offers hope after so many penalties seemed controversial. However, it’s best not to jump the gun too early on what their discussions have been about or the plays that were shown to them. 

Officiating, in general, has been talked about heavily with the owners during these recent meetings. They’ve spoken about how to enforce better consistently roughing the passer even if the review process doesn’t go over well. A report stated that the conversations centred around slamming or slinging the quarterback. Slamming is self-explanatory and will likely be a problem during a play while slinging is a natural way to tackle the passer. It’s very difficult for people to put a specific label on how to best tackle the quarterback. Especially when you consider how fast the game moves and how pass rushers usually don’t have much of an option regarding their momentum. We’ve even seen a New York Giants linebacker slow down and hesitate on tackling a quarterback due to fear of roughing the passer. His backing off resulted in a first down for the other team. The players are aware of the severity of the call, and it’s in their minds when they are just out there trying to keep up. There’s an issue here. 

The committee wrapped up by discussing consistency in officiating for other penalties as well. It’s unknown what they discussed or their other proposals regarding this topic. All we know is that the owners in the NFL are well aware of the outrage regarding the consistency of officiating and want to clean it up heading into next season. Whether anything will get done is yet to be known, but we’ll undoubtedly know soon when they start voting. 

As their discussions continue, we aren’t expected to hear any more news about this committee until later in the week. 

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