Anyone else concerned about roughing the passer calls? Week 5 in the NFL was full of them, from Chris Jones on Derek Carr to Grady Jarrett on Tom Brady.
The mishandling of Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion — or the lack of it, in the Dolphins opinion the last few weeks — forced the NFL to make some changes.
First, the league altered its concussion protocol, adding “no-go” symptoms to this mix. Here’s how the NFL outlined this change:
"“Specifically, the term ‘ataxia’ has been added to the mandatory ‘no-go’ symptoms. ‘Ataxia’ is defined as abnormality of balance/stability, motor coordination or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological issue. In other words, if a player is diagnosed with ‘ataxia’ by any club or neutral physician involved in the application of the Concussion Protocol, he will be prohibited from returning to the game, and will receive the follow-up care required by the Protocol.”"
Fair enough. That change likely should’ve been made a decade ago, but better late than never.
The league, either intentionally or not, has also punished its own players for the Dolphins organizational flaws. Roughing the passer calls were way up this week, as officials went the extra mile to protect quarterbacks. In some cases, they went too far.
Week 5 worst calls: Officials don’t protect Kenny Pickett
NFL officials protected just about every quarterback in the league this week minus Pickett, the rookie out of Pittsburgh. The Steelers future at the quarterback position started his first career game — a difficult assignment to say the least. Pittsburgh played horribly, and the majority of Pickett’s snaps took place in garbage time.
Yet, this didn’t stop the Bills from taking a couple of questionable shots at Pickett, neither of which was called for a penalty.
Late in the third quarter, Pickett was drilled by former college teammate Damar Hamlin while he was sliding. Were Pickett, say, Tom Brady, Hamlin would’ve been thrown out of the game.
Pickett’s teammate, James Daniels, came to his defense after the play.
Later in the same game, Shaq Lawson offered Pickett another ‘Welcome to the NFL’ moment. This time, Pickett stood up for himself.
Rather than whining to the officials, Pickett got up in Lawson’s face, who was having none of it.
Needless to safe, Pickett shouldn’t have to do his own policing, and neither should his teammates.
Week 5 worst calls: Chris Jones landed too hard on Derek Carr
A roughing the passer call against Jones would’ve been a runaway worst decision any other week, but here we are. Sadly, Chiefs fans will have to suffer along with the rest of us at No. 2.
In a second quarter sack, Jones forced the ball loose from Carr’s grasp, and even picked it up himself and ran towards the opposite end zone. The play was blown dead — also a flawed concept — and Jones was called for roughing the passer.
Let’s go to the rule book here. Jones was called for landing with his entire body weight on Carr, which is technically part of the rule: “a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.”
This goes beyond the call itself. If anything, the rulebook needs updating. Where was Jones supposed to land?
After the game, Jones let his feelings on the matter be known — and even recommended a solution.
Reviews of said calls would open up pandora’s box, but at least he’s willing to have a conversation about the matter rather than simply pointing the finger. Officials are in a tough spot on a week-to-week basis, especially when they’ve been directed to protect passers, the game’s greatest asset.
Week 5 worst calls: Tom Brady gets a Tom Brady call
Another case of landing with his entire body weight, Jarrett actually tried to avoid such a fate. As one can see from the replay, Jarrett opted to roll off of Brady, rather than sling him to the turf or make any such motion with excessive forced. Brady is 45 years old, and he’s the GOAT. Defensive players around the league know he’ll receive such calls from the officiating crew.
Jarrett, much like Jones, had a respectable response to the call. It’s almost like defensive players have grown numb to it all:
“I’m not saying that it cost us the game, but it cost us an opportunity to go win the game,” Jarrett said. “If it’s costing people games, it’s going to cost people’s livelihood’s, it’s costing people opportunity. You never know who will go down and make a crazy play. When people watch it to be entertained, they love to see some game winning drives and then when you do it the right way, that’s what makes it so frustrating because you did follow the rules.”
And with that, we sit and wait. Defensive players have been punished for far too long on awful roughing the passer calls. In a sense, the league is between a rock and hard place. The public has called for more safety measures to protect players, yet they don’t want said measure to go too far.