Although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s Competition Committee want the owners to vote at this week’s meeting to penalize running backs who lower their helmets into oncoming tacklers, the proponents of the rule are meeting some resistance from coaches.
Coaches are usually careful not to openly criticize the rules that are voted on by the owners — who are, after all, the coaches’ bosses — but a few reports are trickling out of the owners’ meetings that coaches aren’t thrilled about the proposal.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters that he supports the idea of reducing the number of head-first collisions on the field, but he’s concerned that the officials will have a hard time differentiating between a running back lowering his shoulders in an effort to break a tackle and a running back ducking his head into a tackler.
“How do we go about doing it? How do we officiate it?” Tomlin asked.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also spoke against the proposal at the league meeting today, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS. Carroll may be motivated by the fact that his starting running back, Marshawn Lynch, is one of the NFL’s most physical runners, and if NFL officials start throwing flags on running backs who lower their heads in an attempt to break tackles, Lynch would likely draw some of those flags.
Ultimately, if the owners want to pass this rule, they’ll pass it regardless of how the coaches and the players feel about it. As Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said three years ago when the league changed the overtime rules against the wishes of many coaches, the owners “needed to get the football people out of the room” in order to pass the new rule.
Don’t be surprised if the football people are out of the room on Wednesday when the owners vote to change this rule.