As everyone (including the NFL’s coaches) wait to hear more (anything) about the new rule that prohibits lowering the helmet and initiating contact with it, Jaguars safety Barry Church is concerned that, when the new rule is implemented, it will result in a rash of fouls.
“I don’t understand it because as a defender, when you’re going in for a tackle, your first instinct — you got to lower yourself to get your pads even with the player’s pads,” Church said on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas, via the Dallas Morning News. “So you’re telling me if you’re a defender that needs to lower your pads to get more leverage on a player, and the running back goes low to protect himself, and you guys hit each other, hit him with the helmet or whatever — are they just going to throw a flag basically every single play?”
The greatest possibility for a foul comes when the offense is running the ball between the tackles.
“I mean, it happens in the trenches every single play,” Church said. “The running back comes through the hole, he lowers his head, lowers his body, and so does the defender trying to get leverage on him. It’s basically throwing a flag every play, you can if you want to. It’s kind of like holds. It’s tough. That’s tough on defenders.”
Outside the trenches, the problem will come from players taking their target point all the way down to the ground.
“You’re going to have guys instead of hitting guys up top, in the shoulder pads, upper body, you’re going to have guys going super low, hitting guys’ knees, going for ankles just so they don’t get fined,” said Church, who was flagged and fined for delivering a concussion to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Championship. “[T]hat’s going to cause more injuries. It’s going to cause career-enders — not that concussions and all that stuff isn’t career-ending — but, I mean, you’re going after guys’ legs eventually, and that’s going to make the sport extremely dangerous.”
He’s right, but the NFL worries much more about heads than knees and ankles, because it’s concussions, not lower-extremity injuries, that are causing parents to keep kids from playing youth football, potentially choking off the supply of future professional football players. If careers of professional players end prematurely due to leg injuries, they can easily be replaced. If kids stop playing football altogether, there will be no replacements. And no need for them.