2023 Offseason Questions: Should NFL Reconsider Legality Of ‘Pusher’ On QB Sneaks?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Should the NFL reconsider the legality of the ‘pusher’ on quarterback sneaks?

Quarterback sneaks took on a whole new life during the 2022 season. I mean, if the Pittsburgh Steelers are even running it regularly, you know something’s up. Of course, it wasn’t just Kenny Pickett, but just about every team started to run it more, with an emphasis on having a ‘pusher’, a player lined up behind the quarterback who can live up to his job description in ways I hope are obvious.

But has it become too easy? There’s a reason everybody started doing it—everybody was very successful doing it. the NFL is not exactly in the habit of adjusting rules because the offense is having too much success, but one wonders if this might not be a different case.

The one thing the league prizes above all else is drama, and suspense. If 3rd and 1 plays become automatic, that reduces suspense. They did move extra points back to the 15-yard line because it had become too easy, and we have seen a lot more drama there—particularly the Cowboys have—since then.

You still want defenses to have a chance to make plays. A lot of defenders have complained about how easy it has become. Cameron Heyward even talked about it when he had Pickett on his podcast and they speculated then whether or not it had become too easy and if it could be revisited.

I’m not holding my breath for the NFL to do anything about this, but what do you think? Do you think allowing offenses to have a ‘pusher’ in short-yardage situations is fair? Do you think they should do something about it, even if you don’t think they actually will? Do you think it’s a good thing that offenses are allowed to do it—an advantage, but a fair one?

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