In video to teams, NFL defends rough passer rule – NBC Sports

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs

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No, the rule about roughing the passer probably isn’t changing. At least not if the league office has a say in the matter. And it most certainly does.

TheAthletic.com’s Kalyn Kahler reports the league office sent a video Wednesday to all 32 teams about the situation. In the video, NFL senior VP of officiating Perry Fewell has “defended” Monday night’s controversial roughing call on defensive end Chris Jones in the Raiders-Chiefs game.

“The Kansas City linebacker is executing his rush plan in his effort to sack the quarterback,” Fewell said in the video, according to the report. “He lands with his full body weight on the drive to the ground. A quarterback in the pocket, in a passing stance, gets full protection until he can defend himself. This was properly called a foul for roughing the passer.”

As Kahler points out, Fewell does not address in the video the fact that Jones actually takes the ball from a Raiders quarterback. Derek Carr with one hand or that Jones swings with his left hand. Which necessarily means Jones did no land with his full body weight on Carr.

Honestly, that’s emblematic of the type of two plus two equals five explanations that have become all too typical when the league tries to explain how the rules apply to a given situation. Alas, long gone are the days when the likes of Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino, former acting czars within the league office, provided transparent and precise explanations that matched the clear and obvious visual evidence.

The video also included examples of proper techniques when hitting or tackling quarterbacks. The video inexplicably omitted the controversial (and potentially game-changing) roughing call made Sunday on the Falcons defensive lineman. Grady Jarrett against a Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

The best explanation for any of these supposedly close calls is that they flow from this rulebook-based directive to officials: “When in doubt on a roughing call or a potentially dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the referee should always call roughing the passer.”

When in doubt. So if there is any doubt whether a hit was legal, throw the flag. That’s probably why referee Carl Cheffers threw a flag on Jones, and probably why referee Jerome Boger threw a flag on Jarrett.

These are people trying to understand with the naked eye a series of blurs and flashes playing out before them. How often will it be clear that a defensive player did or did not rough up the passer? Doubt will abound, but the officials are expressly expected to resolve doubt in favor of throwing the flag.

That would be Fewell’s more accurate explanation. Cheffers had a doubt, so he threw the flag. Boger had a doubt, so he threw the flag.

Games should not be called if the referee had reasonable doubt as to whether roughing had occurred. Too much is riding on the outcome of those calls. There must be a better way to ensure accuracy in these situations.

The simplest solution would be to remove “when in doubt” from the rulebook, and expect the umpire to call a foul only when the umpire actually sees a foul. If there is a concern that the referee did not see it clearly, then the league should assist the referee with a replay review.

But the league doesn’t want to accept a replay for roughing, mainly because the league botched a replay review so badly three years ago for pass interference. And that is perhaps the saddest statement of all. The NFL is not going to try to make things better when it comes to replay review for roughing the passer because the NFL fears a repeat of its own proven incompetence when he tries to make things better with a replay review in the past.

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