The NFL plans to discuss penalties for roughing the passer amid outrage over two controversial Week 5 calls, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the talks were internal, said changes to the rule are not expected during the season. The person also said the league gave no direction to officials to stress rough calls following Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion.
NFL owners meet in New York next week. The league’s Competitive Committee — made up of six team owners/executives and four head coaches — makes most of the rule change recommendations. Teams can also propose rule changes to be voted on by owners, which requires 24 votes to pass.
One idea that Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones suggested Monday night after being tagged could be to allow video review of roughing calls.
Quarterback protection is a priority for owners who pay big bucks for the faces of their franchises. 25 QBs make at least $25 million this season.
The questionable call against Jones — the second in two days — nearly cost Kansas City its 30-29 comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chiefs had just scored to reduce their lead to 17-7 when Jones pulled out Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from behind just before halftime. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle landed on Carr while he also found the ball — replays showed it was clearly loose and Jones recovered cleanly — but umpire Carl Cheffers threw a flag for roughing up the passer.
“The quarterback is in the pocket and he’s in a passing stance. He gets full protection in all aspects of what we’re giving the quarterback in a passing stance,” Cheffers told a pool reporter after the game. “My verdict was that the defender landed on top of him with his full body weight. The quarterback is protected from being tackled at full body weight.”
On Sunday, Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was flagged by umpire Jerome Boger for what appeared to be a harmless sack on Tom Brady. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a first down and allowed them to tick off the clock with a 21-15 win.
Boger made a similarly critical statement late in the fourth quarter of the Ravens-Bills game a week earlier on a game that many also thought didn’t warrant a flag.
Boger claimed another borderline roughing penalty in the Falcons-Buccaneers game when Vita Vea was shoved on Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Roughly hitting the passer is the only rule where referees are instructed to play it safe.
The NFL rulebook states, “When in doubt about a roughness call or a potentially dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the umpire should always call the passer roughing.”
Jones, who has been reported nine times in his career for roughing up the passerby, has a solution.
“We need to be able to check it in the dressing room, you know what I mean?” said Jones. “I think that’s the next step for the NFL as a whole. If we call it that high (of the rate) as a penalty, we need to be able to verify it and make sure because sometimes it looks like it can be deceiving.”
The league has already embarked on this path, making pass failures reviewable for a season after a egregious missed foul late in the fourth quarter of the 2019 NFC Championship cost the New Orleans Saints a trip to the Super Bowl.
The experiment failed miserably, and the rule was not honored the next year.