NFL Executives Double Down On Protecting QBs Following Controversial Roughing the Passer Calls

by Chris Haney
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

There’s been some questionable calls in NFL games early this season that fans and football analysts have criticized ad nauseam in recent weeks. Most of the plays involve what many think are soft roughing the passer calls. However, the NFL is standing by the refs’ decisions and are doubling down on protecting the league’s quarterbacks.

Recent roughing the passer calls have created controversy for the league and its officials. Many think the refs are giving QBs an unfair advantage that hinders a defender’s ability to sack or hit them for a loss. Yet the NFL won’t “back off” from “protecting the quarterback” following calls for the league to review the recent roughing the passer penalties.

During the league meeting on Tuesday in New York City, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent spoke on the matter. While discussing the recent calls, he shared that the NFL will not adjust their “philosophy on that call.” 

“Everyone knows if your quarterback is not healthy, you don’t have a chance to win. We’re not going to back off of protecting the quarterback,” Vincent said, according to FOX Sports.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also reiterated Vincent’s statement and shared a similar commitment to protecting the league’s quarterbacks.

“We’re not backing off of protecting players that are in a defenseless position or in an exposed position that could lead to injury. And we’ll take those techniques out of the game,” Goodell explained.

NFL Refs Make Questionable Calls in Multiple Week 5 Games

The recent roughing the passer calls came into the spotlight during Week 5 two weekends ago. The first questionable incident occurred in the Atlanta Falcons versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup.

Falcons DT Grady Jarrett seemingly hit Bucs star QB Tom Brady with a standard tackle. Yet what looked like a 10-yard sack late in the game ended up as a penalty against the defender. The call gave Tampa a first down and basically secured a Buccaneers victory.

Additionally, a similar roughing the passer penalty was called in the Kansas City Chiefs-Las Vegas Raiders game that same weekend. Chiefs DT Chris Jones tackled Raiders QB Derek Carr from behind, caused a fumble, and recovered it. But what would’ve been an important turnover for K.C. was overturned and deemed roughing the passer instead. Following the game, refs defended the penalty stating that Jones fell on Carr “with full body weight.” 

During Tuesday’s NFL meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell spoke further about the recent penalty calls. He shared that penalties are actually down overall compared to previous seasons.

“We’ve had less calls than we’ve had in the past,” Goodell said. “There has been no change to the rule.”

Further, chairman of the NFL’s competition committee Rich McKay also shared details about the ongoing penalty discussions. McKay said the owners did have a short discussion about making roughing the passer calls reviewable. But he admitted more conversations were needed before making any changes.

“When you decide to review subjective fouls, then you’re going to have subjective eyes on something that’s already been viewed once,” McKay said.