Jay Gruden hopes for more clarity regarding the new helmet rules


For months, coaches have been assured that the new helmet rules won’t be a big deal. As the regular season approaches, more and more coaches are starting to realize that the new helmet rules will be a big deal.

And the coaches are starting to react accordingly.

“I’m waiting to get the rule myself written down,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “I’m waiting to have the referees come here and, you know, it’s scary quite frankly. I know that we’re trying to protect the player, take the head out of the game, we understand that, but you do eventually have to make a tackle somehow and these guys are in some unique awkward positions from time to time, everything is not a perfectly formed tackle. Sometimes you’re going to be out of position and I just hope these penalties don’t cost people games and whatever but we’re also trying to keep guys safe, I understand that, but we just need a clear-cut rule defined, help so everybody understands what’s going on.”

But there are clear-cut, defined rules, and they have been written down for months. Even though coaches apparently have heard privately that the rules won’t be enforced as written, Thursday night’s Hall of Fame game featured the rules being enforced, you guessed it, as written.

The problem is that the rules as written aren’t practical. When making a tackle, a defender won’t be running belly- or crotch-first into the player with the ball. The defender will try to get low, lower than the player with the ball. And the player with the ball will try to fend off the tackle, often by trying to get even lower.

The end result, in many cases, will be a collision of helmets, triggering a violation of the rule that prohibits a player from lowering his helmet and initiating contact. Elsewhere, when players are competing for the same chunk of space with the ball in the air, a defensive player may inadvertently ram, butt, or spear an opponent with any portion of the helmet as their bodies collide. Since the exception to this expansion of the unnecessary roughness rule encompasses only incidental helmet contact associated with a conventional blocking or tackling maneuver, any other maneuvers on the field that result in inadvertent ramming or butting or spearing with any portion of the helmet will become unnecessary roughness.

So, yes, this one is poised to become a mess, with every player attempting to lower his pad level relative to an opponent risking a penalty — and with the game potentially moving toward a blend of flag football and sumo wrestling.

25 responses to “Jay Gruden hopes for more clarity regarding the new helmet rules

  1. They only need a rule stating that: “No player (offensive, defensive, or special teams) will spear an opponent with the crown of his helmet”.

    That is all.

  2. When a receiver lowers his head last second and an innocent tackle becomes helmet contact to extend a game winning drive….I’m out. When a running back dives into the endzone in the last minute and he’s marked down at the 1 as time expires…I’m done.

  3. After listening to that idiot Chris Collinsworth try to explain why an obvious clean hit was a flag I feel we are doomed. It’s just getting worse.

  4. That was easily the most unwatchable game that I have ever seen. Even for preseason. Question is when a defensive player now decides to take out a receivers/runners knees because they are afraid of getting penalized do you still call that a cheap shot?

  5. “When a receiver lowers his head last second and an innocent tackle becomes helmet contact to extend a game winning drive”
    I guarantee it will happen, and, I guarantee it will be in the Patriots favor.

  6. Twice in the Hall of Fame Game, the defender held the ball carrier in position from behind. The defender in front lowered his helmet and speared the stationary ball carrier so hard that I expected Golic and Lott to shout “Jacked Up!” In both cases, the defense was penalized 15 yards and all the commentators carried on for days about the injustice. What do you guys want, swords and maces?

  7. This is just a temporary thing for the NFL, as always. At least for the pre-season, they are trying to strike the fear of God into the players, and for the refs……they are trying to put these calls on tape to give them a “teaching moment” before the season starts.
    Shoot, ready, aim! NFL way. They’ll sort it out by 2020.

  8. Chubbs Gruden is a fool – his team did not understand the old rule and was penalized several times. This is an excuse from a lazy couch who never has his team ready for the start of the season.

    Go pound sand, Jay.

  9. Yeah, this is closer to a nail in the NFL coffin than anything before it. It’s the most unclear rule they’ve ever put on the books. How bout just no spearing? Too simple for the NFL.

    Like two guys lowering pad level for contact are gonna be able to adjust in a microsecond while they’re off balance. Sure, whatever.

    The enforcement of 1,000 rules is not must see TV.

  10. “When making a tackle, a defender won’t be running belly- or crotch-first into the player with the ball”

    Gives a new meaning to the term sacked, huh?

  11. there is no reason to use your helmet to make any part of a tackle, nor to gain additional yardage after a good lick;

    everyone has two shoulders, so use them;

    i remember the same whines about the clothesline, the horse collar, facemask and ponytail tackles, the chop block, the head slap, the crack back block and the bump and run;

    somehow the game survived all those changes, and will this, i’m thinking;

    these supremely athletic guys are paid millions of dollars to adapt—no excuses;

  12. Why not just take all facemasks off? Pretty sure that will cut done on leading with the helmet.

  13. you can chalk up 3 wins for the Pats when this helmet rule either bails them out or crushes their opponent in crunch time.

  14. This is quite possibly the clearest rule on the books. Don’t try to take a guy out and you won’t get penalized. Maybe Gruden needs to actually read and view the videos the league provided. You might want to as well.

  15. You take off the face mask in American football your asking for a deadly consequence. These dudes are not getting slower only bigger, faster and stronger. Start with a spearing rule leaving your feet or taking purposeful steps (as three or more) before lower head. You can’t penalize bang bang plays. Not at the speed the game is played.

  16. This could be another season of melodrama.
    The Anthem issue has died down, BUT ready to rear its ugly head.
    Now we have the helmet issue and all the experts on TV will show us they are clueless as well.
    Before the ESPN clowns, there were just the games and we were all better off then.

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