As some of you may know, defensive penalties have been in question ever since the helmet to helmet rule came to be. In the beginning, announcers and analysts would argue with each other about whether it's a penalty or not. There is even an NFL rules specialist that watches each game and adds their thoughts to the broadcasts. What I'm wondering is how we got to a point where even the NFL players are saying the league is going too soft?
We all understand the desire to protect players and prevent injuries, but when everyone isn't on the same page it can be frustrating. Part of the problem is that there are some notorious players who are known for dirty hits. One you may have heard of is the Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who had another incident on Sunday. He went straight in with his head when Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle was going down. If you haven't seen the video it's something that makes your stomach curl.
This is not Vontaze Burfict's first dirty hit. Sunday's hit resulted in a season-long suspension for Burfict due to his extensive history of rule violations throughout his NFL career. He has dealt with many suspensions as well as multiple fines for illegal hits, having lost a total of over $4 million from his game checks to fines.
Of course ever since Thursday Night's game there have been many fans across the NFl claiming that Derek Barnett is in the same company as Burfict. How do we know Derek Barnett did not intend to hurt Jamaal Williams from last Thursday's game against Packers? After the hit he went over and spoke to Williams, most likely an apology and words of encouragement. There are a lot of plays where the player is so in the moment you really can not control whether your heads going in first or not, they're focused on making the tackle. I believe this was the case on TNF, and that Derek Barnett is not a dirty player.
The Eagles secondary is really struggling with tackling, so when I heard this rule go into effect I became worried, the Eagles are known as hard hitters, but not dirty players. Now that they can not brace into the hit it makes it difficult to tackle. I've seen other teams struggling with the same problem. Some of these dirty players who want to hurt the other player have had an effect on why this helmet to helmet rule is so strict.
It's not just the secondary for the Eagles either. Linebacker Zach Brown was called for two personal fouls in Thursday's game against the Packers that resulted in 30 yards worth of penalties. Brown tweeted out after the game his displeasure with how the league is evolving.
Not to mention sacking the quarterback has had some backlash as well. Last year when we had Michael Bennett once of his strengths was sacking the quarterback. However, it seemed like anytime he did hit the quarterback he would get a personal foul flag.
This rule has also caused injuries to defensive players because they have to try not to fall on the quarterback, causing them to bend their legs and body in ways that they frankly weren't meant to bend.
Let's have a look back to Superbowl 50, the Broncos vs the Panthers. You might not like Cam Newton or his style of play, but you have to admit there were many head to head hits that were not called on him in that game. I'm pretty sure I got a concussion from watching that game.
So is this where the NFL is at now? Just so over protective at this point they're not letting teams do what they get paid to do (within reason)? Flags that shouldn't have even been thrown are now affecting overall games. The NFL needs to get on the same page with referees, coaches, and players. It has gotten to a point where the NFL is a mess and it's a guessing game with what the refs will call on the field. This needs to be resolved.
The Eagles are not the only team who have had fate rest in the referees' hands. There will probably be many more games in the future where the results of a game basically depend on what type of mood the referees are in.