Despite near universal public outcry for the NFL to pull back on their roughing the passer penalties, the league has doubled down and confirmed there will be no changes or tweaks to its policy. Troy Vincent, VP of Football Operations, issued this statement as the league tweeted out tape of what is and isn’t legal.
— Michael Signora (@NFLfootballinfo) September 27, 2018
In part, the statement reads:
“In reiterating its position on quarterback protection, the committee determined there would be no changes to the point of emphasis approved this spring or to the rule…”
There were several of these calls, including infractions for essentially “illegal body weight,” in Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This is the video the league sent out in an attempt to clarify the rule.
To ensure consistency in officiating the roughing the passer rule, the @NFL Competition Committee clarified techniques that constitute a foul. Examples of permissible and impermissible contact on the quarterback: pic.twitter.com/ODU6FMGeIW
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) September 27, 2018
Defenders around the league, including in the Steelers’ locker room, admit they really have no idea how to hit the quarterback anymore.
“When it comes to trying get a guy down, it’s hard to kind of compartmentalize, ‘Oh, I can’t hit him here,’” T.J. Watt told the Trib’s Chris Adamski.
Cam Heyward told Adamski players are better off just going for the football than truly tackle the quarterback, mitigating the risk of a costly 15 yard penalty.
Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott reportedly joked that all QBs should just hold onto the football from now on and draw the call.
Dak Prescott asked about the NFL's new roughing the passer calls: "I need to sit in the pocket and let them hit me more. Simple as that."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 27, 2018
That might be a joke but the reality is, he’s pretty much right too.
The league seems intent on not making any changes this year and keeping the rule, as is, in place. That means a headache for defenses the remainder of the year with their next best hope being a change comes in the offseason, though that even feels unlikely given how aggressively the league has defended their policy.