Carl Johnson defends personal foul penalties on Eagles

Two personal foul penalties called against the Eagles in Sunday’s win over the Colts have drawn a great deal of scrutiny, with many Eagles fans crying foul that hits on Austin Collie and Peyton Manning of the Colts drew flags.

NFL V.P. of officiating Carl Johnson, however, says that he’s comfortable with his officials throwing flags on both plays in question.

In the most-discussed hit of this week in the NFL, Eagles safety Quintin Mikell hit Collie with a hard but legal shot to the midsection, and then Eagles defensive back Kurt Coleman collided with Collie, helmet-to-helmet. The NFL decided not to fine Coleman because Mikell’s legal hit redirected Collie into Coleman. But Johnson said that doesn’t mean his officials were wrong to throw the flag.

“Our officials are instructed to err on the side of safety,” Johnson said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “Our number one priority is player safety and when we make calls on the field we don’t determine what discipline may follow.”

Late in the fourth quarter, Trent Cole’s hand hit the back of Manning’s helmet in what seemed to be a fairly minor shot to the head. But Johnson said 15-yard penalties are called for even in minor cases of contact with the helmet.

“That 15-yard penalty is a strong deterrent,” Johnson said. “We want to do everything possible to protect our players. . . . We want them to lower their target. I know he’s trying to strip the ball, but we can’t officiate intent. When they swing and make contact to the head, especially with a quarterback in the pocket looking downfield, it is a foul. It will draw a flag.”

So that’s the official word from the boss of all the NFL officials. I have a feeling Eagles fans won’t be satisfied.

39 responses to “Carl Johnson defends personal foul penalties on Eagles

  1. So what he’s saying is just rub the flag all over Austin Collier’s face, and he’ll Just spring up and be fine? If that’s not it, please explain how after-the-fact flags on legal hits keep players safe?

  2. I disagreed with both flags. But I had much less a problem with the flag on the Collie hit. The flag for barely tapping Peyton’s helmet was just absurd though. I know they want to protect QBs but using a little common sense in the process would be appreciated.

  3. Carl Johnson is a joke, the guy doesn’t even have a handle on the English language.
    He trips all over himself and generally looks like a stooge.
    Other than that, he’s awesome.

  4. why does this have to be limited to Eagles fan’s… I don’t care if your a Colts fan, If your a fan of the NFL this should bother you. Its one thing to not fine a guy, but you can’t take back a 15 yard penalty that could change the outcome of a game.
    How about we err on the side of getting it correct, not appeasing every tom, dick and harry who’s worried the sports to rough!

  5. perhaps we should dress the QB’s in off color jerseys and forbid them to be touched. I don’t think we can call it football anymore.

  6. How is throwing the flag on the Collie hit “erring on the side of safety”?
    Does that mean there should be a 15 yard penalty everytime someone get’s hurt? Penalize them all and sort out the legal from the illegal after the game? At least he acknowledges that the refs “erred”.
    Is this rule on the same level as the mythical “second act” rule for receivers? Get’s trotted out when they need to support a ref’s call but get’s ignored when it doesn’t because it’s not actually a rule?

  7. How is throwing a bogus flag after the fact erring on the side of safety? The flag came out very late…and only after the official saw Collie lying on the ground. The referees have forgotten the intent of the penalties…and so has Carl. The intent was never to throw a flag because of an inadvertant glancing open hand to a QB’s helmet…it was originally used to prevent intentional blows to the head; the ones that are designed to rattle the QB. Rules have been changed by lawyers that are not capable of seeing the overarching reason for the rule and are instead stuck on the nitpicky letter of the law. What the NFL has been doing lately is ridiculous and whether those that beat the drum in the media believe it or not, the game is changing for the worse.

  8. But Johnson said that doesn’t mean his officials were wrong to throw the flag.
    “Our officials are instructed to err on the side of safety,” Johnson said on NFL Network’s Total Access. “Our number one priority is player safety and when we make calls on the field we don’t determine what discipline may follow.”
    What does “err” mean? It means error, mistake. So “Err on the side of safety” means, “Make an error and be wrong on the side of safety.
    Who the hell hired Johnson anyway? That bafoon looked like he was just happy to be on TV. He gave that goofy grin after every answer.
    Also, he said “It was ruled an incomplete pass so the receiver was defenseless”. The pass was CLEARLY completed and Boston Collie CLEARLY covered himself up to prepare for the hit.
    It was neither incomplete nor a defenseless receiver.
    The Trent Cole call was just silly.

  9. Show me a Guy who doesn’t think collie made the catch and covered up, and I’ll show you VAL kilmer in at first sight. Not quite blind, but still no idea what he’s seeing

  10. I think we are only a few years away from the QB’s all wearing red jersey’s during the games and being “down by contact” when you get two hands on them. At the rate we are going it honestly feels like an inevitability.
    At least then we would all understand the rules…

  11. The Commish is hurting the game by trying leave a legacy. The game was fine before and will be fine after only if common sense is allowed to prevail. I’m a Steelers fan, but was appalled that the hit on Collier was not a fumble and recovery by the Eagles. The refs now have unprecedented power to change the outcome. It’s like calling a flag on the Spartans in the movie “300” for being superior fighters.

  12. Crap.
    One, it was a catch. Two, it was a clean hit. Three, it was a fumble.
    Philly fan would have been justified in taking the field, separating the officials heads from the bodies and parading around the Linc with their heads on sticks.
    I’ve been watching this league since 1976. And every damn year the officiating becomes more perverse and moronic. I think the biggest problem is that these boobs can’t keep up with the speed of the game, throw a flag reactively and then attempt to piece together what they think they should have seen and hope it agrees with the film. I hate them and their failings.

  13. We want them to lower their target. I know he’s trying to strip the ball, but we can’t officiate intent. When they swing and make contact to the head, especially with a quarterback in the pocket looking downfield, it is a foul. It will draw a flag.”
    errrrr…unless the infraction is comitted in a playoff game where ALL the money is going against the offending team (packers v. cardinals). mysteriously rodgers was “speared” and “facemasked” on two of the final three plays of OT…the facemask led to the game-winning score yet every zebra in the joint swallowed…his whistle. “player safety” my ass…its another tool in the game of manipulation.

  14. the refs tried to give the game away to the colts. first collie caught the ball and fumbled. if not it was an incomplete. he clearly had possession of the ball so he wasn’t defenseless. either that or call an incomplete pass. second, cole hit manning’s head but it’s a direct result of being blocked by the offensive tackle.

  15. For them to throw a flag whenever a player is hurt or gets a concussion is ridiculous. Think about it, this kind of stuff used to happen all the time. Throwing a flag does nothing to protect the player, it just pisses fans and players off. Even players who play on offense are against penalizing the defense so much. If the NFL is serious about player protection, they’ll start using the new technology helmets that can absorb hits better and prevent concussions, and they will stop pushing for the 18 game season. The commissioner can’t have it both ways. You can’t protect players and expect them to play more games at the same time.

  16. PLEASE NFL – GET RID OF Carl Johnson!
    This guy has the personality of Q-Tip. I am sure he is knowledgable and all but honestly NFL, can’t you get a better PR guy who can speak English and form some coherant sentenses. Even Rich Eisen looks at this guy like is a freak show.

  17. The officials have been blowing calls since football began but I have sympathy for them lately. Not only are they trying to do their job but (Big Brother) the National Fine League is looking over their shoulder in an attempt to over regulate the game.
    “If I was a little bit blinder and a little bit dumber, I could be an NFL official.”
    Bum Phillips

  18. He’s just pissed because they did everything in their power to hand Peyton that W and the Eagles still won.

  19. How do you lower the target when a QB throws overhand? I guess its time to stop trying to bat down passes….

  20. On the 6:00 pm edition of Playbook on NFL Network Baldinger showed an incidental hand to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s helmet, yet no flag was thrown.
    Inconsistencies in officiating?
    Preferential treatment of QBs?
    Both of the above?

  21. This will probably never fly, and it’s kind of like expecting the sherriff to arrest his wife for speeding but here goes anyway: How about the league makes penalties challengable/reviewable, just like plays? Some of these calls are so flagrantly wrong that you’d have to reverse them. Yeah, yeah, I know some will say it will slow down an already too slow game and you’re probably right. But hey, it just might have the same effect on the refs that penalties are supposed to have on players – make them think twice about throwing an unwarranted flag. Ok, rant done.

  22. The re-air of Playbook on NFL Network is midnight tonight and noon tomorrow if you want to see the hand to Fitzpatrick’s helmet.

  23. to me what has been lost in this conversation is that this austin collie play was not only a blown call that shouldn’t have been called, but it was ruled incorrectly as an incomplete pass. so ok, you want to err on the side of caution, i get it, but on that one play you screwed up two different things, and that drive led to a touchdown. same thing with the garbage tap on the head to manning: another touchdown. so what you have is 14 points on the board that should not have happened. how a tap on the head goes from a 4th and 18 turnover on downs (he actually fumbled on the play…don’t remember who recovered) to an automatic first down is beyond me. much like the calvin johnson rule, you have this situation where your average fan watching the game stares at the tv expecting one result, gets another and then says wtf at the tv. i love the game, but i have to admit, I’ve never seen this bad of officiating and I think adding the 5/15 yard penalty back into the equation is an ok solution. I realize the idea was to take subjective judgment of intent out of the equation, but these rulings seem more subjective and ambiguous than any that came out of the 5/15 distinction.

  24. lets not forget the invisible roughing the kicker call too..
    carl johnson I don’t know who you are but you are a douche.

  25. Convenient Omission so as to not put Johnson on the spot?
    I heard the Carl Johnson interview. And no question was imposed to Johnson as to the discrepancy between the Fitzpatrick non-call and the Manning call.

  26. “to me what has been lost in this conversation is that this austin collie play was not only a blown call that shouldn’t have been called, but it was ruled incorrectly as an incomplete pass.”
    what was interesting was they let the play develop. collie received the ball, took THREE steps with possession, was hit cleanly, fumbled, eagles recover and run the ball back for about 6-8 seconds before they suddenly blow it dead. why did it take so long to blow the whistle? also, pregame on NBC stated the NFL said the flag was warranted because collie had not gotten his SECOND foot down (therefore he was “defenseless”). the NFL had HOURS to look at this play, and this is the best they could do? theyre basically telling you…youre an idiot. you didnt see what you saw. it wasnt blatant manipulation of the game, it was the officials “erring”…again. *(we just wish it wasnt so obvious)*

  27. This “err on the side of caution” is a cop out. it’s a pre-apology for any ref screwup in this whole thing.
    “We thought it was illegal, turns out it wasn’t. We know it cost you the game but… at least we’re trying to be safe!”

  28. One of the most ridiculous calls I’ve ever seen was the TAP on Golden Boy’s Ginormous Cranium even worse than Leavey and crew’s mega screwing. NFL seems to be so stupid. Like the idiot school administrators that suspended a kid because he glued one of those small toy soldiers onto his hat for veterans day and that because the soldier had a GUN it mandated an automatic suspension. Brainless, clueless and totally void of any common sense.
    Turning this league into a joke. Starting to lose interest due to these morons at the helm

  29. I would like to see the wording of the head slap rule because I can’t imagine it calls for a 15 yard personal foul for ANY contact between a hand and a helmet. Cole didn’t “hit” Manning in the head, he “grazed” Manning’s helmet with a couple fingers of his glove.

    And they were right to not fine Coleman. Not just because Collie was pushed into him but also because it is obvious he tried not to hit Collie in the head. The contact was incidental and unfortunate.

    The fines should be for dirty play only and Coleman wasn’t playing dirty. The flag? I don’t know. If the Eagles had lost the game it would probably be a bigger deal.

  30. Eagles fans won’t be satisfied. Neither will many other team’s fans either. Saints fans for one. If love-tapping widdle peydon mawwing on the head is worthy of a 15 yard penalty, then why was Drew Brees’ “fumble” allowed to stand? There was a lot of hand-to-helmet contact on that play, but no flag was thrown then.

    The inconsistency is what pisses me off more than anything else. If they want to change the rules, I may or may not like them, but it’s well past time to enforce them evenly and fairly. And it’s also well past time to use instant replay on all major penalties and turnovers or potential turnovers.

  31. As an Eagles fan, it was very tough to watch that game! BUT, I have to agree with the refs on this one. For example, the “hit” by Cole on Manning’s helmet was indeed harmless…but the the rule clearly states “no blows to the helmet”. If you allow that hit, as harmless as it was, where do you draw the line? Then it would become a judgement call, which the NFL is trying to get away from. The other hit on Collie was indeed brutal, but leagal! Again, things happen so fast at field level, and keep in mind the refs don’t have the luxury of instant replay, right away, on a play like that. So when Carl Johnson says “Err on the side of safety”, he probably means: If it looks bad, then use your better judgement and throw a flag. Any Ref, Ump, rules official, etc will tell you that at the time of the play A CALL HAS TO BE MADE! It may not always be the right call, but a call has to be made. This starts the whole process of reviewing(if desired). As for the Collie hit, while a penalty was issued on the field, no fine was issued by the league office after further review.
    You want to avoid all this…GET RID OF THE FACEMASK!! Without that metal cage protecting your face, players will learn to actually use their arms to tackle vs. launching themselves headfirst at opponents.

  32. The NFL should look and see this post. All replies up til now have called out this Johnson guy and Goodell. Pretty soon, its going to lose a lot of fans. I’m sorry, but Goodell has to figure this out that he is beating a dead horse. The game was fine before, stop trying to leave your mark on the NFL.
    BTW, I couldn’t stand watching the Eagles Colts game. I am a huge Eagles fan but I found it extremely difficult and frustrating to watch because of the officiating. This should not happen between two of the league’s premier franchises playing one another.

  33. If the colts won there would be an uproar…ok the hit on Collie…fine…but the personal foul on the fumble…no way

    I am by far not an eagles fan nor colts fan…but as a FOOTBALL fan regardless if this is your team or not…that was a horse crap call…I understand the rule is no BLOWS to the helmet…could that even be considered as a blow? If Goodell wants to make changes, then allow the refs to see a replay of anything that can change the outcome of these, or anything that could be considered a border line call…do not simply throw the flag b.c it looks bad or seems to be a bad call…but at least have a chance to look at it to determine if it really is or is not….now it is fairly true that only manning, brady, or brees would get these calls…if it was vick, mcnabb, palmer or even shanchez…that would not have been called

  34. Philly fans were so mad at the Peyton Manning love tap to the back of the head because it wouldn’t have been called on Michael Vick, Matt Cassel, Jason Campbell, or Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Peyton and Tom Brady get SO MANY calls in their favor because they are the poster boys for the league.

    As for the Austin Collie hit, it was the offensive coordinator’s fault for sending his receiver on a slant/post route over the middle of the field. That’s what tight ends are for. He should have had Collie do a button hook or another route where he could come back to the ball and not have the potential for a big collision.

  35. I don’t like that they tell the refs to err at all. What’s wrong with just making good calls?

    Second, those calls were mostly BS. It’s really hurting the game. I don’t understand why they don’t just have another ref watching from a booth, with the ability to use instant replay as he desires, so he can radio the on-field refs when there is a screw-up.

    Finally, the league needs to start going the opposite direction regarding its “top talent.” Brady got more roughing the passer calls than most teams accumulate over three years. It’s not acceptable to treat guys like Manning and Brady different from the Vicks or McNabbs, or even the Ryan Fitzpatricks and JaWalrus Russels out there. Very disappointing.

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