NFL news: Roughing the passer rule won’t be changed, but could be called differently
Through the first three weeks of the 2018 season, there has been much attention directed toward how the referees have been officiating the roughing the passer rule.
It has been a major talking point given how it has been overly called this year with Green Bay Packers star outside linebacker Clay Matthews being called for it three times this year with the last two drawing more ire. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, the NFL is not looking to change the rule but rather call the penalty differently moving forward this season.
The NFL competition committee doesn’t intend to change the wording of the league’s roughing-the-passer rule when members speak next week on their regularly scheduled conference call, according to multiple people familiar with the league’s inner workings.
The league doesn’t see the rule as being an issue in any regards but rather that the referees are choosing to flag players a little more openly. Matthews has been the biggest culprit of that rule as he has been flagged in all three weeks with the latter two seen the more questionable ones. In Week 2, he was called for it on a critical fourth down that kept the Minnesota Vikings’ drive alive as he tackled quarterback Kirk Cousins to the ground. It was deemed that he drove and scooped Cousins in the ground after he threw the ball.
This past Sunday, he was once again penalized as he tackled Washington Redskins’ quarterback Alex Smith straightforward to the ground and wrapped him up securely without leading with his head. This has created great confusion on Matthews’ end as he adjusted his tackling technique to what he believed was a more safe method. However, he was called for the infraction because he put his weight on Smith as he tackled him to the ground. There also several roughing the passer calls made in Monday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Although there won’t be any changes to the rule, it should see referees take a slightly different approach to calling that penalty moving forward in the season.