Last week, the big story in the NFL was the costly roughing the passer penalty assessed on Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. This week, that’s going to be one of the big stories again.
In the third quarter of today’s game, Matthews sacked Washington quarterback Alex Smith, and the officials immediately threw a flag, calling him for roughing the passer. The officials didn’t explain exactly what Matthews did that deserved a penalty, but it appeared they were saying Matthews landed on Smith with his bodyweight.
But all Matthews did was tackle Smith. If that’s roughing the passer, it’s hard to see how any defensive player can ever sack a quarterback. Former NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on the FOX broadcast that he did not agree with the call.
“I don’t like that as a foul. I really don’t,” Blandino said.
If the call was correct from the perspective of the league office, the NFL needs to say so. Head of officiating Al Riveron has conspicuously avoided weighing in on roughing the passer calls, but everyone — players, coaches, officials, media and fans — needs to know what the rules are. At the moment, it doesn’t even appear that the officials are in agreement about what the rules are.