Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 21, 35 days before the NFL draft.
Overreaction to helmet rule?
The reaction to the NFL’s passage of the so-called “helmet rule”, which prohibits a player from delivering a forcible blow with the crown of his helmet outside of the tackle box, has been swift. From the media side we have NFL Network’s Mike Mayock (via Pro Football Talk).
“I look at this rule and I say, at some point I think we’re crossing a line,” Mayock said. “To me, a running back has got to be able to drop his pad level. And when a running back drops his pad level, his head goes with it. That’s just the way you play football.”
Bears running back Matt Forte tweeted that he was preparing to get fined:
Wow so they really passed that rule...last time I checked football was a contact sport. Calling bank now to set up my lowering the boom fund— Matt Forte (@MattForte22) March 20, 2013
It’s good for Forte to save his money but he might be able to put it to another use.
The league reviewed all of the games during Week 10 and Week 16 of last season to see how many times the penalty would have been called if the rule had been in effect last year. They found 11 instances where a flag should have been thrown. That comes to about one flag every three games.
But, wait. The effect on running backs’ style will be even less than that. About half of the would-be infractions were against the defense. So we have once every six games, or two or three times a season, where the running back would draw a flag.
Nobody ever accused Jim Brown of being anything less than the toughest of tough guys and he has no issue with the rule. He thinks that using your head as a battering ram is a bad idea.
"I didn't use my head,'' said Brown, who led the NFL in rushing in eight of his nine seasons with the Cleveland Browns. "I used my forearm. The palm of my hand. And my shoulder. And my shoulder pads. I wasn't putting my head into too much of anything. I don't think that's a good idea. At least it doesn't sound like a good idea to me if I'm not guaranteed that my head is going to be strong enough to hurt somebody else and not hurt myself."
A runner hitting with force with the top of the helmet is dangerous both for the player delivering the blow and the player receiving it. If a penalty every month and a half is the price for helping to reduce the danger here, that seems to be a pretty low price to pay.
The one caveat I’ll add here is how it’s officiated matters. If the refs get more flag-happy than the wording and intent of the rule says they should, the new rule has the potential to be a major detractor. Also, it was mentioned that the referees would confer to make sure that they all saw the play as a penalty. A major increase in zebra huddles would also be a detractor.
If the rule is properly enforced, we shouldn’t see a flurry of flags affecting Alfred Morris’ game.
Redskins sign Biggers, still eye Davis
In case you missed it
- Rob Jackson suspended four games
- Redskins 2014: Money to spend, needs to fill
- Shanahan: Still working to sign Fred Davis
- Shanahan reports on RG3’s progress
- Redskins sign CB E. J. Biggers
- A breakout year for Hankerson?
Days until: NFL draft 35; OTA’s 55; NFL kickoff Sunday 171
Tandler on Twitter
@jukempnukem Might have. 38 receptions for over 500 yards in first 16-game season not bad for a 3rd-rounder. Should improve more this year.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) March 20, 2013