NFL head of officials praises “tough, physical and legal hits”


The NFL has been beating players over the head (figuratively) with instructions not to hit their opponents in the head (literally). The league’s head of officiating thinks players are getting the message.

In a video distributed to teams and the media, NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino lauded several players who showed during Week One that it’s still possible to play contact football without making contact with the head.

“We want to share with you some examples of tough, physical and legal hits,” Blandino said at the outset of the video, which then praised the following hits:

— San Francisco safety Eric Reid hitting Packers receiver Randall Cobb. “Lead with the shoulder and drive through with the legs,” Blandino said as Reid’s hit is shown. “He makes legal contact with his shoulder to the body of the receiver for a good, clean tackle.”

— Texans safety Shiloh Keo hitting Chargers receiver Eddie Royal. “A great pass breakup — again, the defender is going to lead with his shoulder, get his head to the side and make a good, clean, effective play,” Blandino said.

— Broncos safety Mike Adams hitting Ravens tight end Ed Dickson. “The defender is going to lower his target, staying away from the head, aiming at the midsection of the receiver, and knocking the ball away,” Blandino said.

— Ravens safety James Ihedigbo hitting Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. “The defender turns his head to the side and makes contact with the shoulder to the body of the receiver, breaking up the pass,” Blandino said.

— Broncos safety Rahim Moore hitting Ravens tight end Dallas Clark. “A picture perfect hit,” Blandino said. “The defender’s head to the side, lead with the shoulders, drive through with his legs and knock the ball loose.”

Those are the kinds of hits the league office likes to see.

“NFL players continue to play tough, physical football,” Blandino said, “within the confines of the NFL’s safety rules and guidelines.”

28 responses to “NFL head of officials praises “tough, physical and legal hits”

  1. you don’t go out of your way to justify your actions unless you have doubts about what you have done. no one who has done something that they know is absolutely the right thing ever goes back and feels they must justify it. they know its right and they move on.

    the NFL is trying to justify going too far with removing the physical nature out of football.

  2. NFL completely misses the point: any of those hits could have turned into an illegal hit through no fault of the player. The defensive player could have done the exact same thing, but if the offensive player moves a couple inches in another direction it’s helmet to helmet etc. Or if the angle of approach is slightly off, something outside the ability of humans to control at speed, the helmet rides up or down and it’s illegal.

  3. Not everyone is going to be happy as they are changing the game significantly, but this is a great step towards more illumination of what is and what isn’t legal in the new world.

  4. So they’re turning it into the NSTHL (No Spearing The Head League). What’s wrong with showing proper technique?

  5. This message is paid for by Roger Goodell, who is reacting to poster comments about flag football…

  6. “…unless they LOOK too violent, in which case we will flag you and you will get fined”

    Thought I would finish the headline on behalf of Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner and Golden Tate.

    Go Hawks!

    (brace yourselves…here comes the Seadderall Cheathawks comments)

  7. The penalty that keeps getting handed out is for hitting a defenseless receiver. This means that it becomes very difficult to make a hit hard enough to break up a pass. If he was not defenseless, he probably wouldn’t drop the pass (assuming good play).

  8. The league is living in a different world than you and I. I watched my Bucs get penalized time and again last Sunday for hits that were not malicious or “unnecessary” in their roughness. It’s getting ridiculous and no longer fun to watch.

  9. Kudos to the league on the attempt at positive reinforcement, but as others have said, a perfect hit is almost a fluke. So much depends on how the offensive player turns or ducks his head. The league has to distinguish between blatantly dirty hits and hits that are slightly off.

    Beyond that, can we please stop this fining nonsense? If a hit is illegal, flag it on the field where it will do some good. If a player is punching out people on the field or the sidelines, then by all means, fine him. But this business of flagging players, then fining them, too, is bonkers. Let the players play, the officials officiate, and the league front office be as unintrusive as possible.

  10. It’s institutional and begins with instruction. All these players have been performing an action the same way for years. It has become nearly habitual. Penalties are levied on the field. Excluding malicious actions, fining a players after the fact is moronic. Suh on the other hand, literally gets a pass…

  11. I’m really happy with Eric Reid replacing Dashon Goldson so far. He showed great hands for making interceptions and the ability to legally punish receivers coming across the middle in the Green Bay game. Just has to clean up the tackling a bit and he might actually be an upgrade to DG since he knows how to lay a big hit without drawing a flag every time.

  12. People keep saying the NFL is changing the game. ESPN changed the game with players hoping to get that highlight “jacked-up” hit. The NFL is taking the game back to it’s fundamentals.

    Look at pre-2000’s games. Guys like Ronnie Lott and Dennis Smith terrorized receivers without aiming at the head or launching themselves helmet first. Do any of these keyboard warriors want to tell Lott and Smith that they were “wearing skirts” or “playing flag football”? I’d love to see the results.

    Lead with shoulder, aim for midpoint, wrap up, run through. That’s real football (as well as real martial arts). Launching head first like a hopped-up meth head is not.

  13. This is basically a PR move and rpiotr01 hit it right on the mark, any of those hits could of turned into what they deem as illegal hits with a slight fraction of a movement. The NFL’s attempt to make a strike zone isn’t working, worse is that legal plays like the hitting of Matt Ryan are being fined.

  14. Like the completely legal push of Cutler by Suh a couple years ago. The legal hit that Suh got fined for. Time to start fining those in charge for their illegal fines.

  15. Roger Goodell is destroying the game of football. If the NFL really cared about player safety, especially quarterbacks, they’d make intentional grounding legal.

  16. @msclemons67

    The irony in your statement, despite executing ‘flawless’ technique, Lott would be fined out the wazoo for his ‘targeting’ defenseless recievers.

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