There’s no secret the recently passed NFL rules are not being received well by coaches and players, specifically the new helmet rule.
NFL officials recently held a meeting with Eagles coaches and players at the NovaCare Complex to try to explain the new rules more in depth.
According to a report by NBC Sports Philadelphia, players were “fired up” about the new rule, which will penalize 15 yards and could possibly even lead to ejections if players lower their head to initiate contact.
Though the rule is for offensive and defensive players – let’s face it, defensive players are going to get the shaft nine times out of 10. Thus, Eagles defensive players very much displayed their concern – and they should.
Not even getting into the logistics of the new rule, the Eagles surprisingly were the third-most penalized team last season with 130 accepted penalties. 57 were against the defense, which accounts for nearly half.
Expect that to go up in 2018.
Even after meeting with NFL officials for a few days, players are still seeking clarity. That’s because NFL officials didn’t have all the answers, and even answering a few scenarios saying they would be “judgment calls.”
One play in particular that keeps coming up is Malcolm Jenkins’ big hit on then Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks in the Super Bowl.
“It’s 50-50 depending on which referee you ask” Jenkins told NBC Sports Philadelphia. “Some think it’s a foul and some don’t. We’ll see how it goes.”
Even with offensive players, there’s no clarity. The rule states an offensive player isn’t supposed to be penalized if he lowers his head in an attempt to brace for impact. NFL officials told the team it would again be a “judgment call” to determine whether or not an offensive player is bracing for impact or being the aggressor.
Trying to improve player safety is important, no doubt, but when players are about to go into a season not clear on a rule that’s supposed to protect them is going to expose them even more.
Football, no matter how much anyone tries to eliminate the big blows, is a violent game, and some aspects of it can’t be controlled. Trying to enforce this rule consistently and fairly is going to be easier said than done, especially when it comes to possible ejection of players.
Plus, it’s going to lead to more flags, which in the Eagles case, its just going to add on for the amount of times they were penalized last season alone – and it could result in costing a team a game, including if a key player is tossed.
There just seems to be more problems than solutions with this rule, a mess the NFL and its fans certainly don’t want.