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.
“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.