D.J. Swearinger: Helmet rule will force defenders to aim for the knees

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There’s plenty of uncertainty regarding the new helmet rules. For Washington safety D.J. Swearinger, one thing definitely is certain: Head injuries will be traded for leg injuries.

“They want us to, I guess, hit with our shoulder,” Swearinger said, via ESPN.com. “I guess not hit a guy when he ducks. So I guess we just gotta aim for the knees. That’s the only way I know how. If you don’t want me to hit you, then I guess it’s the only way, the only way.”

But the new helmet rules have nothing to do with hitting a guy in the head; they prohibit hitting a guy with the helmet, specifically when lowering the helmet and initiating contact. So while Swearinger is right when he says the league wants players to hit with the shoulder, the hit with the shoulder doesn’t have to go low, except when a receiver is still defenseless.

The broader problem is that the officials still don’t seem to know what is and isn’t a violation of either of the two new helmet rules. Which makes it even harder for the players to know what they can and can’t do.

12 responses to “D.J. Swearinger: Helmet rule will force defenders to aim for the knees

  1. Swearinger already ended Dustin Keller’s career with a malicious hit to the knee. So he won’t have to adjust his game at all.

  2. Go back and look at the hit that injured Ryan Shazier! He was trying to avoid lowering his helmet and ended up being the victim of that collision. Sad but true…aiming low will become the new norm.

  3. Or you could form tackle and avoid the whole issue. You don’t have to hit like Sean Taylor or Nighttrain Lane. I mean, don’t get me wrong that was unbelielvable. But, there’s always fundamentals.

  4. I’ve seen this same sort of comment from other players- “If I can’t hit a guy up high, in the helmet, then I guess I’ll have to hit him in the knees” – and it’s never made sense to me.

    There’s a lot of real estate below the neck and above the knees to aim for when making a tackle. When these guys talk about only being able to hit a player in the head or knees, it sounds like their only goal is to injure opposing players.

  5. So, what’s new? They’ve been aiming for the knees for years. No matter how tall the receiver is, defenders whine about not being able to hit them in the head therefore they must hit them in the knees, as if a receiver’s legs are attached to their shoulders.

  6. What people don’t understand is that everything is happening so fast, you can’t always control what happens or what appears to happen. So to be safe and not get flagged or fined, you will have to go low. RB’s are taught to lower their shoulder into a defender, who is also told to go low because low man wins. It is a recipe for disaster if it is just two guys going at it. Now add in a hit from a third or fourth guy and you can’t control the RB’s trajectory. So go lower and don’t get flagged.

  7. Have you ever seen a defender aiming for a ball carriers chest or area above the waist, only to have the defender duck and bend over so that he’s hit in the head, even if not a direct hit. The defender was trying to comply with the rule, but it doesn’t matter.
    Personal Foul – 15 yards – and a fine.
    So why take that risk?
    Just aim for the area above the knee (not the knee itself).

    For those who say use fundamentals and just tackele, well you are trying to make the ball carrier drop the ball. You don’t want the receiver tackled for a 10 yard catch. You want them to drop the ball resulting in an incompletion.

  8. Sing it with me guys!

    The foot bone’s connected to the … leg bone.

    The leg bone’s connected to the … knee bone.

    The knee bone’s connected to the … head bone.

    And there’s definitely not anything that’s in between.

  9. I can see nothing but disaster concerning officiating almost every tackle

    How can u dive for a first down w/o lowering your head?
    What if the tackler is lowering bus his simultaneously?

    How can you tackle the ball carrier w/o lowering your head in attempts not to strike the carriers head/helmet but the runner is getting low to brace for impact and/or UK protect his knees?

    We’re going to need animated characters to show players proper techniques & what will or won’t be penalized
    But officials also need animated characters to make the right calls

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