During FOX’s broadcast of the Cowboys-Seahawks game Sunday, Troy Aikman was critical of the NFL’s roughing the passer point of emphasis this year. The Hall of Fame quarterback further explained during a FOX conference call Tuesday why he doesn’t like the way officials are being told to enforce the rule.
“I think that everyone understands player safety,” Aikman said. “I think the league overreacted. I think they’ll continue to look at it with the controversy that it’s created. I don’t know. I just think sometimes some rules, even the helmet rule — it was called during the preseason and hasn’t been called as much [during the regular season]. But based on the way that rule is written, I watch games every week in preparation, with a lot of film, and there are several plays in every game I watch where by the [helmet] rule and the way in which it’s written, there should be penalties, but they stopped calling it. I thought that was what was going to happen [with the roughing rule] after the penalty two weeks ago on Clay Matthews, and yet it happened again in this last game. . . . I don’t like it. It changes the outcomes of games, which is severe, and as I’ve said before, ultimately for some of these coaches, it’ll cost them their jobs. I think the league will look at it, and the right decisions will be made going forward.”
Four roughing the passer penalties were called Monday night, making 13 in Week Three and 34 for the season, Kevin Seifert of ESPN reports.
FOX’s rules analyst Mike Pereira said last week he disagrees with the league on how it’s interpreting and enforcing the rule. The competition committee has the rule on its agenda for a regularly scheduled conference call next week, and the league’s former head of officials expects a change in how roughing the passer is officiated.
“I think common sense really factors in,” Pereira said on the FOX call. “Troy made mention of the fact that in the helmet rule that he sees three or four every game that should be called or that were called in the first two weeks of the preseason and are not being called now. I think common sense will factor into it. . . . Adjustments can be made in how you interpret the rule during the season. I think we all agree that it’s gone a little too far now. I think that adjustment will be made, and we’ll probably start seeing it shortly.”
Pereira pointed out that 51 helmet penalties were called in the first two weeks of the preseason. Two were called in the first two weeks of the regular season as both players and officials adjusted.
“I think we all have felt like it’s gone a little bit too far,” Pereira said. “I think it’ll seek a level. It’ll seek a level that will get it back in synch with what the players think and what we pretty much all think. Any time you put a new point of emphasis in, there’s an adjustment that goes really to the players and to the officials. This one has taken a little bit longer than the helmet rule. . . . I think we’ll see the same thing here. I really do think it’ll find a middle ground to where it doesn’t become as much of an issue as it is now.
“I’m all for player safety. I think everybody is, but you can move it a little bit too far. We all think that’s happened a little, but I think it’ll work back to something that’s acceptable.”
Pereira said Matthews’ hit on Kirk Cousins should not result in a penalty and thinks the competition committee “feels that way also.” Pereira expects the league to emphasize to officials that in order to call a foul, the defensive player has to commit a “second act” of “lifting and driving” the quarterback into the ground.