What did Jets linebacker Quinton Coples do wrong when he was called for unnecessary roughness for a hit on Chargers running back Donald Brown on Sunday? Apparently nothing.
The league has confirmed to PFT that Coples was not fined for the hit, which knocked Brown’s helmet off and drew a 15-yard penalty.
That penalty was controversial: The NFL’s two highest-profile rules experts disagreed about it, with former head of officiating Mike Pereira saying it was the right call and former referee Mike Carey saying it was the wrong call.
The league has decided that Coples doesn’t deserve to be fined, and that feels like the right decision: Brown wasn’t in a defenseless posture at the time Coples hit him, and Coples didn’t grab Brown’s facemask. The hit looked bad mostly because it knocked Brown’s helmet off, but there’s no rule against knocking an opponent’s helmet off.
Sometimes officials have such a visceral reaction to a hit as hard as the hit Coples laid on Brown that they throw a flag and call it “unnecessary roughness” without explaining what, exactly, the penalty was for. This is one of those times. Coples was flagged for playing good, hard, physical defense. At least he wasn’t fined for it.