The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: With the new rules that have been passed or are being worked on this year, will we see an increase in the number of players ejected from games?
There has been a clear movement when it comes to officiating the game toward consolidating power at the league level. Last year, the officiating headquarters was given control of determining whether or not a review should stand, undermining the authority of the on-field officials.
A rule passed just this past week would now allow the league headquarters to make the decision to eject players for egregious non-football acts. The even the immediately comes to mind is the fight between Odell Beckham, Jr. and Josh Norman a couple of seasons ago.
Combine that with the new ‘targeting’ rule, for which the review component is still being worked out but which figures to once again include authority residing more with the league office than with the on-field officials, and you see the pattern emerging.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be interpreted in a sinister manner. These moves are generally well-intended with the idea of better legislating the game and promoting stricter penalties for violations of player safety. Those ideals, if achieved, would be admirable.
There is only a handful of instances every season that result in players actually being ejected from games, and the 2017 season was perhaps even an extreme example in that regard. A.J. Green, Jalen Ramsey, A’Shawn Robinson, Michael Crabtree, Aqib Talib, Sheldon Richardson, Marshawn Lynch. and Vontaze Burfict just off the top of my head were all ejected from games, and there were certainly others.
We’re not going to know the answer to this question, of course. But I think we can reasonably speculate that the number of things that can get players ejected has increased, and thus, the number of ways a player can get himself ejected have increased, making it more likely for one to be ejected.
There’s a good chance we will see an increase in ejections. But perhaps the real question is, will be it a significant change, the sort that results in players altering the way they play?