Blindside block call on Saints’ Garrett Griffin might be the worst penalty of the season

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To say the least, the 2021 NFL season has been fraught with officiating controversies as on-field officials struggle to communicate in real time with the league office in New York City, varying points of emphasis cook the calls in strange ways, and massive inconsistencies between crews show up every week.

That said, the blindside block penalty called on Saints tight end Garrett Griffin by Brad Rogers and his crew may well be the worst penalty of the entire season.

First, what constitutes a blindside block, per the 2021 NFL Rulebook?

It is a foul if a player initiates a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder.

Note: It is not a foul for a blindside block if the forcible contact occurs in “close-line play” prior to the ball leaving that area. The ball is not considered to have left that area if the player who takes the snap, either from a shotgun position or from under center, retreats in the pocket immediately or with a slight delay, and hands the ball to another player, or runs with the ball himself. This exception does not apply to any action other than a designed play. Any forcible contact in “close-line play” is still subject to the restrictions for crackback and peel back blocks.

Now, the play in question, which happened with 6:50 left in the third quarter, and Taysom Hill throwing a short pass to Deonte Harris.

Griffin blocked safety Jayron Kearse, the blitzing defender, which is his right. How this is a blindside block, even per the NFL’s renewed focus on the call, is beyond us, and we are not the only ones confused by it.

Rogers’ crew had not called a single illegal blindside block penalty — before that call, there had been just six all season. Nor had the Saints been called for one. The Patriots are the only team this season with two such penalties, and Ron Torbert’s crew is the only one to call more than one (two).