The NFL seems to be aware there’s a problem. They just don’t know what to do about it.
According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, there’s a strong sentiment among members of the league’s competition committee that the controversial roughing-the-passer penalties need to be applied differently.
Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is central to the league’s dilemma, as penalties against him have been backed by the league office, and even doubled-down upon by making them teaching tools.
But members of the committee don’t necessarily agree, as Maske cites people with knowledge of the deliberations saying the interpretations of those penalties may not be “consistent with how the league wants to see the roughing-the-passer rule enforced.”
The committee has a conference call next week, which was previously scheduled. While they might talk about how to adjust the enforcement, there’s apparently no movement toward changing the wording of the rule.
“I’m not sure we can do anything this year,” one person with knowledge of the committee’s deliberations said.
Another person close to the process said that the penalties will be called differently, with evidence of the changing emphasis to be explained by officiating videos (so perhaps they’ll become useful).
While the offseason talk was largely about the league’s new lowering-the-helmet rules, that has since faded from view, as roughing the passer penalties have created a much greater furor. And the people with the ability to influence those rules appear to have heard it.