The NFL plans to discuss penalties for the passer’s brutality amid outrage over two disputed calls in Week 5, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the conversations are internal, said rule changes are not expected during the season. The person also said the league hasn’t given officials a directive to emphasize hard calls following Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion.
The NFL owners will meet in New York next week. The league competition committee – made up of six team owners/managers and four head coaches – makes most of the recommendations for rule changes. Teams can also propose rule changes for owners to vote on, which require 24 votes to pass.
One idea, suggested by Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones on Monday night after being flagged, could be to allow rough calls to be video reviewed.
Protecting quarterbacks is a priority for owners, who pay big bucks for faces in their franchises. Twenty-five QBs are making at least $25 million this season.
The questionable call against Jones — the second in two days — nearly cost Kansas City in their 30-29 win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chiefs had just scored to cut their deficit to 17-7 when Jones stripped Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from behind just before halftime. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle landed on Carr while bringing the ball back – replays showed it was clearly loose and Jones recovered cleanly – but referee Carl Cheffers threw a flag for roughing up the passer.
“The quarterback is in the pocket and he is in passing posture. He has full protection from every aspect of what we give the quarterback in passing posture,” Cheffers told a poolside reporter after the game. “My decision was that the defender landed on him with full body weight. The quarterback is protected against full body weight tackles.
On Sunday, Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was flagged by referee Jerome Boger for a seemingly harmless sack on Tom Brady. The penalty gave the Buccaneers a first down and saw them run out of time in a 21-15 win.
Boger made a similar critical call late in the fourth quarter of the Ravens-Bills game a week earlier on a play that many also thought didn’t warrant a flag.
Boger called another borderline roughing penalty in the Falcons-Buccaneers game when Vita Vea was pushed into Atlanta quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The brutality of the setter is the only rule that referees should err on the side of caution.
The NFL rulebook notes, “When in doubt about a hard call or potentially dangerous tactic against the quarterback, the umpire should always hard call the setter.”
Jones, who has been flagged for roughing the setter nine times in his career, has a solution.
“We need to be able to examine it in the cabin, you know what I mean?” said Jones. “I think this is the next step for the NFL as a whole. If we call it a penalty at this level (of rate), then we need to be able to look into it and make sure, because sometimes looks can be deceiving.
The league has gone down this route before, making pass interference reviewable for one season after a flagrant miss 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 considered the following year.
AP Sports Dave Skretta contributed.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL