Another week of preseason football, another week of head-scratching flags being thrown. Welcome back, NFL.
Ever since the league adopted its policy of handing out 15-yard penalties for “lowering [the] head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent” this past offseason, many have questioned just how this rule would be enforced.
Well, if it’s anything like how referees are applying the rule in preseason games, this NFL season could be as tough to watch as any.
According to officials in Minnesota this week, a simple sack is now considered roughing the passer:
— Yahoo Sports NFL (@YahooSportsNFL) August 18, 2018
Another hit from the latest slate of preseason games shows what was once thought of as a solid tackle. Now it’s a penalty:
So here's a play that my 49ers client Raheem Mostert got an unnecessary roughness penalty on last night for leading with his head… Is this really the way we want to affect the outcome of games this season? pic.twitter.com/lotRzIxiue
— Brett Tessler (@TesslerSports) August 19, 2018
Fans, players, agents and media all have serious concerns over how football is supposed to be played now. And from the looks of things, the frustration is already beginning to mount.
NFL players sound off
A sampling of social media on Sunday shows that past and present NFL players are already upset with the change and plenty already calling to reverse the rule.
Welcome to NFL football. More offense is all they want. That’s why the calls go the way they do.
There is no “make adjustment” to the way you tackle. Even in a perfect form tackle the body is led by the head. The rule is idiotic And should be dismissed immediately. When you watch rugby players tackle they are still lead by their head. Will be flag football soon.
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) August 19, 2018
The fact that rule changes are made without the thought of asking the player who PLAY is baffling to me. Dumb dumb dumbbbbbb
— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) August 19, 2018
These penalties are getting ridiculous. Tough to take someone to the ground without landing on them, whipping them down, grazing their head or hitting their legs. This is a tough game for tough people.
— Derek Wolfe (@Derek_Wolfe95) August 19, 2018
Just bring out the flags and play flag football smfh https://t.co/QpqPURiCNh
— Robert E. Ayers Jr (@1_900_ayersjr) August 18, 2018
I’m glad I’m not playing right about now…might as well play flag football.🤦🏿♂️SMH https://t.co/juHTbvH9EA
— Charles Tillman (@peanuttillman) August 18, 2018
— Emmanuel Acho (@thEMANacho) August 16, 2018
Man these rules in the NFL right now…I don’t get it
— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) August 18, 2018
CHANGE THE RULE!! Or ease up off the Gas peddle with throwing them flags!
— Shaq Thompson (@ShaqThompson_7) August 19, 2018
Man these NFL hits that are being flagged are comical smh
— Daxton Swanson (@DSwan7) August 19, 2018
— Brian Hartline (@brianhartline) August 19, 2018
That’s a picture perfect tackle. Slips head to the side at the last second! https://t.co/KpPPzf3C80
— Bruce Gradkowski (@bgradkowski5) August 19, 2018
If plays like this are gonna be called during the regular season the @NFL is going to have another big time controversy on their hands. All for protecting the players but come on. Ridiculous!! https://t.co/BPUzRic2wv
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) August 19, 2018
The flags will soon get worse
Keep in mind that this is still preseason. Players are usually taking it a bit easier and not trying to hit as hard or get injured. Once the game is being played at full speed in a few weeks, it’s going to get even more uproarious to see calls like this get made.
Yahoo Sports Terez Paylor can already see a future in which tortured teams are held back even further because of the helmet rule. And already the league has been doing damage control by trying to explain what a perfect tackle should look like in today’s game. But that explanation only confused people more.
It’s just enough to make you miss the replacement refs. Say what you will about the ‘Fail Mary’, it was at least exciting.
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