Perhaps the biggest news to come from the list of the proposed rules changes and bylaws comes from the portion of the rule book that wasn’t affected.
No changes have been proposed to the rules regarding the protection of quarterbacks.
In response to a question from Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland, Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay said that the quarterbacks currently are “very protected.” McKay said that he is aware of John Madden’s suggestion that the rules regarding punters and kickers should be applied to passers, but for now the Competition Committee will be proposing no adjustment to the rules regarding hits against quarterbacks.
McKay also said that the league has considered in the past the possibility of allowing intentional grounding by quarterbacks who are still in the pocket, but that the league decided it would create too much of an advantage for the offense. However, McKay didn’t rule out the possibility of such a change coming in the future.
Though the don’t need to be revised in the extreme ways mentioned by Madden and McKay, it would make sense to consider reasonable enhancements. Quarterbacks after a turnover should be completely off limits unless they are attempting to make a tackle; currently, they can be “blown up” (like Kurt Warner was in the 2009 playoffs against the Saints), as long as they’re not hit in the helmet or with a helmet. Also, it would make plenty of sense to assign one official to watch only the quarterback — and to make hits on a quarterback automatically subject to a replay review conducted quickly and efficiently in the booth.
Since the quarterback action occurs well behind the line of scrimmage with no impediments to the cameras, it would be fast and easy to fix some of the many mistakes that the referees currently make in missing potential roughing the passer penalties.
UPDATE 4:27 p.m. ET: In the interests of clarity and completeness, the Steelers have indeed proposed modification of the horse-collar rule to encompass quarterbacks in the pocket. But no changes have been proposed regarding conduct that would constitute roughing the passer.