Greg Schiano’s plan for crashing the victory formation party falls squarely within the rules. And it’s clear that the rules currently permit a defense to pin their ears back when the quarterback otherwise plans to pin his knee to the turf.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL has considered in the past possibly revising the rules to prevent defenses from teeing off in such situations. It was determined, however, that it was impossible to draw lines between when the game is truly over from the perspective of a coach or a player. Though in many respects it’s a “know it when you see it” proposition, in other situations (like when the defense can take the lead or tie the game with one score), the game truly isn’t “over” in the Yogi Berra sense of the word.
And so it’s regarded as a matter of sportsmanship, not a matter of rules.
That doesn’t mean the issue won’t be revisited in 2013, given that any team can submit potential rule changes for consideration.
“There are many plays during the season that get raised by clubs and are submitted for consideration, and this could be one on them,” Falcons president and Competition Committee chairman Rich McKay told PFT by phone on Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s been raised before, and it could be raised again.”
Of course, before it ever would be passed, 24 or more owners would have to approve the specific language that would compel a defense to call off the dogs in certain situations. We doubt that ever will happen, even at a time when the NFL is doing everything it can to remove unnecessary contact from the game, and also to limit some of the contact inherent to the sport.
Even if the chance of forcing a fumble by going hard during a kneel-down play is one in a billion, the chances of it happening if the defense shuts down is zero. It doesn’t seem fair to take away that opportunity to change a game — even if it doesn’t seem fair to keep playing hard at a time when the offense is merely going through the motions.