Word this week was that the NFL Competition Committee would have a conference call next week to discuss the roughing the passer rule and the specific emphasis on the part of the rule dealing with defenders falling on quarterbacks with all or most of their body weight.
That conference call actually took place on Wednesday night. NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent released a statement on Thursday explaining that the committee reviewed video from this season and 2017 before deciding to keep things as they are.
“In reiterating its position on quarterback protection, the committee determined there would be no changes to the point of emphasis approved this spring or to the rule, of which the body weight provision has been in place since 1995. To ensure consistency in officiating the rule, the committee clarified techniques that constitute a foul. Video feedback will continue to be be provided throughout the season to coaches, players and officials illustrating clear examples of permissible and impermissible contact on the quarterback.”
The league also released a video narrated by officiating head Al Riveron showing four examples of impermissible contact and four examples of permissible contact. The former group includes Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr‘s hit on Aaron Rodgers from last season and Saints defensive lineman David Onyemata‘s hit on Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick from Week One, but neither group includes the hits by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews that have been major talking points over the last two weeks or other hits that have been subjects of debate.
The examples of permissible contact all include players making an effort to move their bodies to the side, which seems to fit with what Saints head coach and Competition Committee member Sean Payton said about the rule on Wednesday. Payton said the emphasis should be on whether players are acting “intentionally” and, like Vincent’s statement, he emphasized the need for consistency.
Assessing intent is not always an easy task, which may not do much to increase consistency but could lead to fewer penalties if officials hold their flags on all but the most blatant examples of roughing the passer.