The NFL’s former officiating chiefs don’t agree with the direction the league is headed with its new definition of roughing the passer. A league source confirmed that Clay Matthews hit on Kirk Cousins late in Sunday’s Green Bay-Minnesota game was correctly called.
In fact, the league’s current head of officiating, Al Riveron, will share that hit and one by Eric Kendricks on Aaron Rodgers to reiterate that the tactic is a foul.
Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira, both of whom have walked in Riveron’s shoes and now work as FOX rules analysts, strongly disagree.
“Those are not fouls. We don’t like those as fouls,” Blandino said on their weekly show, Last Call, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.
Pereira said he is troubled that the league is “creating penalties for contact and tackles . . . that don’t put the quarterback at risk of injury.”
“I think we’re setting a dangerous precedent,” Pereira continued. “You can’t have [Matthews’ hit] as a foul. There’s got to be a line drawn closer to a more violent hit.”
The league believes Matthews used the technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg or legs, scooping and pulling in an upward motion, which it deems a foul. Matthews strongly disagreed with the call in postgame interviews, wondering how he was supposed to hit the quarterback.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy defended Matthews on Monday, saying the linebacker was doing what “he was coached to do.”
Blandino and Pereira made it clear they agree and wonder what is expected from pass rushers.
“You look at the rule, and it says you can’t commit intimidating or punishing acts. You can’t violently or unnecessarily drive him to the ground or land on him with all or most of your body weight,” Blandino said. “That’s not what you’re seeing in at least two calls in that game. What do you want the defender to do? To me, it looks like he’s wrapping, and he’s trying to bring the quarterback to the ground. There is going to be some force. There is going to be some impetus that takes both players to the ground. Again, what do you want the defender to do in that situation?”