Former Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams believes the rule changes implemented by the league to protect offensive players have shifted a significant burden on defenders trying make plays.
Williams joined Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt on Sirius XM NFL radio and said the rule changes have made the split-second decisions now presented to defenders a lose-lose proposition.
“At the end of the day, your job as a defensive player is to tackle the ball carrier,” Williams said. “It’s a disadvantage for the defensive player when an offensive player gets to catch the ball, take two steps and now he gets to see and give you a move. That’s not fair.”
“If I was a safety and I had to wait for (an offensive player) to come down, if he scores a touchdown who looks bad? I do,” Williams added. “That receiver’s not going to get cut. I’m going to get cut. I’m going to be on ESPN on the highlight and no defensive player wants to be on the end of that. “
Williams said it’s already difficult enough for a defender when they have to worry about getting fined for their helmet contacting the helmet of a receiver with the possibility of fines being levied for the it. If the league further legislates hits to take how low blows out of the game as well following the shot that injured Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller, defenders will be left with little options to do their jobs effectively.
“To me, personally, that’s not football. You’re taking the aggressiveness out of the game,” he added.
Williams took the example to the extreme of saying an offensive player would need to establish full possession before a defender would be able to engage the player. While the rules aren’t that polarized, the frustration is understandable. If a defender will get fined for hitting too high and theoretically for hitting too low as well if the rules are again altered, it will put defenders in a very difficult position of trying to play within the rules and still be effective at their jobs.
“They’re going to have to do something,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, yes, we want to make the game safer. We want to protect our players but at the same time, it’s football. You have to tackle the person.”