View Full Version : Starkey: NFL QB rules boggle the mind

10-12-2009, 11:08 PM
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Starkey: NFL QB rules boggle the mind

By Joe Starkey
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Has the NFL gone overboard in trying to protect quarterbacks?

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin deftly sidestepped that question last week, but subtly sent a message while he was at it.

"I'm not going to comment on how they're officiating, in terms of protecting the quarterback," Tomlin said, "as long as they provide that same blanket of protection for my quarterback."

Oh, they provided it, all right.

Specifically, referee Ed Hochuli provided it in the form of a highly questionable roughing-the-passer call against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter Sunday. The penalty wiped out an interception and kept alive a Steelers touchdown drive.

It was as big as any play in the 28-20 victory.

Defensive tackle Landon Cohen was flagged, though it sure looked like guard Trai Essex pushed Cohen into Ben Roethlisberger, an act that should have absolved Cohen. Similarly, Steelers linebacker James Harrison probably should have been absolved of a low-hit call on Jay Cutler earlier this season, because it sure looked like Harrison was held, then pushed.

Every call cannot be subjected to video review, obviously, or the games would never end. But how ridiculous is it to demand that a referee, at live speed, determine whether a pass rusher among 10 massive, moving bodies is pushed into the quarterback or gets there on his own?

Hochuli made his call: "Roughing the passer, a hit to the quarterback's knees," he announced.

CBS analyst Dan Fouts, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, was dumbfounded.

"You can't even breathe on quarterbacks anymore," Fouts said.

Hochuli's flag answered the question of whether Roethlisberger ever gets a call. Still unanswered is whether the league's obsession with quarterback safety is good for the game.

The answer here is a resounding no, as far as all the unreviewable amendments to the roughing-the-passer call are concerned.

It's not that I'm against the NFL wanting to protect its marquee attractions. As Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith put it, "People probably aren't buying tickets to watch Aaron Smith hit a guard. They'd much rather see Ben throw to Hines (Ward)."

The problem is that recently added amendments to the roughing rule are nearly impossible to enforce at live speed and more confusing than a Walt Harris playbook.

Check out the wording on Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13, No. 5: "A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting (a passer) in the knee area or below ... even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him."

What is "forcibly"? More to the point, what is anyone supposed to think when they read the following "notes" attached to the rule:

Note 1: "A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in the knee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player."

Note 2: "It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him."

OK, so you can "swipe" at a quarterback's knees (not forcibly, I assume) and even grab him around the knees and pull him to the ground, but, please, no lunging.

Let us proceed from confused to hopeless with Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13, No. 2:

"When tackling a passer who is in a virtually defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down and land on top of him with all or most of the defender's weight. (How about half his weight?) Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up or cradle the passer with the defensive player's arms."

Cradle the passer? Should he feed him a bottle and change his diaper, too?
:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl: (Only if it's Marsha Brady. - mesa)

I have no idea how anyone would begin to intelligently implement these rules, but I suppose it's comforting to some to know that Roethlisberger and the Steelers can benefit from them as much as anyone else — including Tom Brady.

Joe Starkey can be reached at jstarkey@tribweb.com or 412-320-7810.

10-13-2009, 08:52 AM
Ben got the call this week because the national media has their panties in a bunch about the favoritism in the QB calls.

Don't worry, in a couple of weeks when the media are whining about something else things will go back to normal.

10-13-2009, 08:56 AM
Defensive tackle Landon Cohen was flagged, though it sure looked like guard Trai Essex pushed Cohen into Ben Roethlisberger, an act that should have absolved Cohen.

Gonna play Pats* fan here for just a second: "Nuh-UH! He clearly lunged at Ben's knees on purpose!" :rolleyes:

10-13-2009, 08:59 AM
If the Lions had fans....BOY would they be pissed!!!

Steely McSmash
10-13-2009, 12:00 PM
Nice read.