Roughing the passer has been the talk of the NFL this season, with the officials calling the penalty more strictly than they have before. But the letter of the rule hasn’t changed, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick says that means his team hasn’t changed the way it rushes opposing quarterbacks.
Asked on a conference call about “new rules” on roughing the passer, Belichick corrected the reporter.
“They’re not new rules,” he said. “I mean, you’re not allowed to lead with your head, you’re not allowed to body slam the quarterback, you’re not allowed to hit him below the knees, you’re not allowed to hit him above the shoulders. And, if he’s out of the pocket, then some of those rules change, and if he’s in the pocket, you’re allowed to horse collar him. I mean, the rules are the rules. So, I mean, I hope you’re not implying that we’ve been coaching something that was illegal and now we’re changing the way we’re coaching it, because that’s simply not the case. So, I’m not really sure what new rule it is you’re talking about here. We’ve coached the rules as they’ve been written and as we’ve received them. So, whatever the emphasis is the emphasis is, but that doesn’t change the fundamental of the rule. I’ve never taught anybody to hit a quarterback above the shoulders or hit him below the knees or body slam him or lead with our helmet and spear him – like we’ve never taught that. So, I’m not really sure what you’re referring to.”
The Patriots haven’t been flagged for roughing the passer at all this season, so whatever Belichick is doing to teach his players to avoid flags, it’s working.