Dan Quinn “disappointed” in application of helmet rule to Falcons


Falcons coach Dan Quinn thought he knew the new helmet rules well enough to make one of the videos aimed at helping other coaches and players better understand them. Now, he’s apparently not so sure.

Officials flagged Atlanta running back Ito Smith on Friday night for lowering his head and making contact with his helmet on an opponent as Smith tried to throw a block.

“I knew that could happen,” Quinn told reporters regarding a helmet foul being called on a member of the offense. “I was surprised it happened on a pass play on a blocker. . . . So we knew it could happen on a receiver on a crack block or an offensive lineman maybe that was pulling, but maybe that’s one that, OK, that’s part of it. If that’s the way it’s going to be officiated, I think that’s good that it happened now, not only for our team but for other teams around the league to provide examples. I’m sure other teams are going to do what we are and keep showing examples to their clubs to make sure everybody sees it the same way.”

Quinn plans to use all of the helmet fouls from last night’s game against the Jets and all other preseason games to help his players get ready for the season.

“It’s an emphasis and I was disappointed to see our team, that we take so much pride in that, to see those fouls,” Quinn said. “But we’re not only going to show ours, we’re going to show ones from around the league this week so we have more teaching opportunities to do that. Clearly we have work to do in that area and we’ll devote the time to it because it’s that important.”

Referee Brad Allen has said that officials will err on the side of throwing the flag during the preseason, but the reality remains that the rule is written broadly, without any extra language that requires intent to use the helmet as a weapon or a blow that has any specific type of violence or force. If the rules are applied as written, the penalty on Smith should be a penalty whenever it happens, because he: (1) lowered his helmet; and (2) initiated contact with it.

The only way to consistently avoid trouble in this regard will be to figure out how to keep the helmet up while still getting low enough to make a block or a tackle while aiming for a target that may move into the path of the helmet. In other words, compliance will be a matter of randomness and luck.

16 responses to “Dan Quinn “disappointed” in application of helmet rule to Falcons

  1. How cute, Clara Claran fans are back with their slogan on every board. This helmet thing looks like its causing a lot of indecision as guys fly up to make tackles. Possibly will cause more injuries than its trying to avoid. Runners need to be policed hard because defenders are becoming ‘protect themselves’ stand up obstacles rather than aggressive tackles.

  2. When a rule is broad enough to be open to perspective and interpretation, it shouldn’t be a rule. For the first time in 40 years I am not excited – and maybe not interested – in the upcoming season.

  3. It is going to be a debacle. These guys have been doing this since Pop Warner, it is next to impossible for them to change. I really don’t see how the NFL is going to survive long term. The commissioner is an imbecile, the players are entitled jerks, the fans are turning it all off.

  4. This is a terrible rule when even Dan Quinn doesn’t fully get it! When the guys making the instructional webinars “thought” they understood how to teach this new rule, it’s obvious that the officials will make a total mess of in calling it, that will make the “catch rule” pale.
    What makes sense about having a bunch of old trust fund babies on the “competition committee” (who’ve probably never put on a set of pads in their lives) making rules that will be applied in actual play situation, in real time? The NFLPA needs to be in on these rules so there can be legit knowledgeable input.
    At least it’s preseason and hopefully teams can learn something from all of the convoluted interpretations that seem to be muddying the waters, or maybe the league will see that this is going to be a giant mine field they should avoid until it can be more carefully thought through and crafted in a language that is clear and easily defined in simple points.
    Fans are growing weary of the necessity of debating the fine points or having the unexplainable categorized as “unchallengeable” because it’s all up to the ref’s gut or personal preference, etc.

  5. Falcons have been headhunting since Dan Quinn has been coach. He calls it “fast & physical”….the league called it spearing. I’m sure that Sean Payton being on the competition committee knew that he could trip up DQ & the Falcons with this type of rule. This will be a problem for the dirty birds all year. Call it a sneaky form of bountygate revenge.

  6. The rules committee needs to have an emergency meeting and table this “rule” until they can properly decide how to properly proceed with something like this. I also believe that the subjectivity of the rules will lead to more indecision on the field for players, more injuries and when it decides a game, huge PR problems.

  7. It is an ill thought out rule and will get suspended for the remaining part of season, once a Packer, Pats, or Steelers lost is created by the ill thought out rule.

  8. Another way for the refs to determine the outcome of games on behalf of the NFL, perfect

  9. Florio says:
    In other words, compliance will be a matter of randomness and luck.


    Baloney. There is no good way or safe way to tackle with your head down, and initiating contact with the crown, be it high or low. Nothing in the rule suggests that a player will be flagged if he’s not the initiator. So there is a small amount of objectivity to be had.

  10. I love it when the refs decide to err on one side or the other, rather than emphasizing the removal of error.

    Call what you see.. not what you think you might have seen.

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