Now that the 2018 preseason is behind us it will be interesting to see how NFL referees go about officiating the new lowering of the helmet to initiate contact rule. If you’re like me and you’re still confused about the new rule, we are not alone as even Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said as much during his Tuesday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan in addition to saying that he’s even now confused about what is and isn’t considered roughing the passer with the 2018 regular season about to get underway.
“No, I think I’m on the page as everyone else,” Roethlisberger said regarding him fully understanding what constitutes a lowering of the helmet penalty. “I think there’s still so much confusion, so much question. And not even just that one but, listen, I’m a quarterback, I love when they protect the quarterback, so I was watching that preseason game, which I’m sure both of you guys watched, and saw a couple, like, roughing the passer calls that like I said, this is probably sounds like blasphemy coming from a quarterback, but I was like, ‘wow,’ I can’t believe they called that.
“I feel like you can play until you’re 50 if they’re going to protect you that much. But I just think they always try and have new rules and new points of emphasis and sometimes it’s easy to translate and sometimes it just kind of leaves you scratching your head. So, that lowering of the helmet thing is one that I don’t know that anyone will ever grasp, and I don’t know if the referees can even, because we were asking them questions and they couldn’t really give you an answer. So, I’m not sure anyone’s going to get it in its entirety.”
In case you’re curious, there were 70 lowering of the helmet to initiate contact penalties during the recently concluded 65 game preseason. That’s an average of a little more than one a game. Additionally, while there were a few teams that didn’t have that particular penalty called against them during the preseason, the Steelers weren’t so lucky as they accumulated two such fouls in their four preseason games. Both were curious calls at that and on Steelers defensive backs Coty Sensabaugh and rookie Marcus Allen.
While the league has tried its best this past offseason and preseason to better help teams understand what is and isn’t considered illegally lowering the helmet to initiate contact, they’ve obviously failed to convey the new rule properly in the process.
As for the strange roughing the passer penalties we saw called during the preseason, while Roethlisberger did enjoy see his fellow position-mates get protected a little more than usual during this past preseason, as usual, he doesn’t see himself being the beneficiary of any of those types of calls during the upcoming 2018 season.
“No, absolutely not,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday when asked if he expects to draw any roughing the passer penalties against this season. “I don’t think I’ll ever get those calls, but it’s still fun to watch them.”
While Roethlisberger wasn’t the recipient of any roughing calls during the preseason, his teammate, quarterback Joshua Dobbs, drew three such calls against opposing defenses in the team’s four exhibition games with two coming in the first half of the team’s preseason finale against the Carolina Panthers. By the way, there were 50 total roughing the passer penalties called during the preseason.
“I think we even had one or two in our game that I thought were, whew,” Roethlisberger said. “But, no, I don’t anticipate getting those calls.”
We’ll now wait see if Roethlisberger’s prediction is correct in addition to watching how long it takes for us to have a controversial lowering the helmet penalty called on the Steelers during the regular season.