October 08, 2018
One of the major themes of the 2018 NFL season, league-wide, has been the enforcement of laughable roughing the passer calls, whether they be for accidental and/or harmless contact with a quarterback's helmet, any kind of contact with the quarterback's leg below the knees, or landing on the quarterback with body weight.
It was easily predictable that bad roughing the passer calls were going to affect the outcomes of games across the league, and that is exactly what has happened.
On Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles were affected by an absolutely atrocious roughing the passer call on Michael Bennett, when Bennett legally hit Kirk Cousins on his rear end -- a perfectly acceptable strike zone spot to hit the passer -- before sliding down Cousins' legs while going to the ground. He then wrapped up Cousins' ankles, causing Cousins to fall gently to the Lincoln Financial Field turf.
The NFL rule book states the following, as it pertains to the quarterback's knees:
A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, 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.
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.
2. It is not a foul if the defender swipes or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him, provided he does not make forcible contact with the helmet, shoulder, chest, or forearm.
After the game, referee Walt Coleman defended his call to a pool reporter.
"He went low into the quarterback's knees with his shoulder, with force," Coleman said. "And the rule is that you cannot hit the quarterback low at the knee area or below with force. He got him there with his shoulder, so that's what I had as far as roughing the passer."
That's simply not at all what happened on the play. No forcible contact was made to Cousins' knees or anywhere below them.
Had Coleman not made his call, the Vikings would have been in a 3rd and 14 situation from the Eagles' 31 yard line. Instead, they were rewarded with a 1st and 10 from the Eagles' 11, and they scored a touchdown two plays later.
The horrendous roughing calls are one thing. However, what's worse is that the NFL isn't making roughing the passer calls with any kind of consistency.
Going back another week, in the Eagles' loss to the Tennessee Titans, Harold Landry beat Lane Johnson around the edge, and violently struck Carson Wentz in the head.
This wasn't roughing the passer last week: pic.twitter.com/kj0oqn4FJZ— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 7, 2018
Even if accidental, that is a foul, as Dean Blandino, the NFL's former Vice President of Officiating (and current FOX Sports officiating analyst) confirmed.
Yes that’s a foul. Forcible contact to the head while QB is in passing posture.— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) October 3, 2018
That play resulted in a strip sack of Wentz, recovered by the Titans, who then scored a field goal on their ensuing drive.
The Eagles are 2-3, and they deserve to be because they have played like a 2-3 team. However, inconsistent roughing the passer enforcement has to be infuriating for football fans, league-wide, as they are wrongfully affecting the outcomes of games.
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