Roughing the Passer
Clay Matthews did everything in his power to avoid it on Sunday. He put his head to the side, tackled through the chest -- not the head or the legs -- and took Redskins quarterback Alex Smith to the ground. And there was still a flag.
It was Matthews' third roughing the passer penalty in three games. Two of them were questionable, at best. And that was just the beginning. Five roughing the passer calls came on Monday night between the Bucs and Steelers, and 34 quarterback hits have been flagged through three weeks of the season. That's 18 more than this time last year (15 more than 2016 and 2015).
The NFL competition committee has a meeting next week to discuss the rule and the subsequent increase in penalties, but the NFL has backed the rule and says it's unlikely anything will change.
Big Tree Fall Hard
The emphasis has shifted from avoiding the head (2011-2014), to avoiding the knees (2014-2017), to now avoiding falling on a quarterback with a player's full body weight. So, like, just defy gravity, or something.
The rule has now gone from protecting the QB to endangering the pass rusher. On Sunday, Dolphins' edge defender William Hayes tore his ACL on a play where he sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Hayes says he was trying to avoid a penalty when he planted his foot and tried to stop his momentum.
The only quarterback to have a season-ending injury this season? Jimmy Garoppolo scrambled and blew his ACL without any contact from a defender... Accidents happen. Let the boys play.