Tom Brady: Defensive players get penalized for offensive mistakes

NFL: JAN 03 Falcons at Buccaneers
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Most offensive players welcome the expanded protections of the past decade. One prominent offensive player believes that those protections have actually been bad for the game.

Via USA Today, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recently explained in a discussion posted on the team’s website that he believes many penalties called on defensive players are the result of mistakes made by offensive players.

“A quarterback should only throw the ball to certain places, because your receiver is in danger of getting hit,” Brady said. “For example, when I used to play against Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t throw the ball to the middle of the field because he would . . . hit them and knock them out of the game. And now, every hard hit is a penalty on the defense. So I feel like they penalize defensive players for offensive mistakes.”

Brady mentioned (without naming names) the recent hit by Bills linebacker Andre Smith on Bears quarterback Justin Fields.

“The quarterback messes up, doesn’t see the blitzer, or the line screws up,” Brady said. “I don’t know what happened, the quarterback or the lineman on offense. The defensive player comes in and hits him hard and they throw a flag on the defense.”

Brady said that quarterbacks need to protect themselves and their players. “It shouldn’t be the responsibility of your opponent to protect you,” Brady said.

“It creates really bad habits for platers, because you feel like I can basically do anything,” Brady said. “I can run and not slide. I can throw my receiver into any coverage and not have any repercussion for it. The only thing they’re gonna do, they’re actually gonna blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit.”

Brady called it a “disservice to the sport,” reasoning that the sport isn’t being played at a high level. “It actually deteriorates because you’re not teaching the players the reasons and the fundamentals of what the sport should be,” Brady said.

He’s right about this, to an extent. Quarterbacks are now more willing to throw what once were called “hospital balls,” because defensive players can’t hit the receivers like they once did. And if they do, it’s a free 15 yards of field position. But there’s no illegal hit if the ball isn’t thrown into a spot that will allow an illegal hit to happen.

That said, defensive players must learn techniques that comply with the rules. Smith hit Fields illegally. There was a way to make the Bears pay for the mistake that someone had made. Smith could have capitalized on the blunder without applying a helmet-to-helmet hit to Fields.

So it’s really a shared responsibility. That said, Brady is right when it comes to quarterbacks and other offensive players believing that the rules give them a coat of armor in the form of a possible 15-yard penalty.

As it relates to Brady’s suggestion that quarterbacks believe they can “run and not slide,” that’s simply not a correct interpretation of the rules. Quarterbacks who take the ball past the line of scrimmage are no longer quarterbacks. However, Brady’s words underscore the fact that defensive players are so wired to be conscious of the safety-driven rules that they sometimes tread too lightly, almost becoming paralyzed by fear of committing a foul while the quarterback runs rings around them.

In some situations, a big hit is legal. In others, it’s not. Brady’s point is that the responsibility ultimately resides with the offensive players to use techniques that protect them from big hits that could injure them.

24 responses to “Tom Brady: Defensive players get penalized for offensive mistakes

  1. Amen!! There are so many plays in college and the NFL where the quarterback should get a penalty for throwing a ball that might get his wide receiver killed!

  2. Quite a number of so called illegal hit occur when the player who has the ball instinctively lowers their body and that lowers their head, so the hit that was aimed to be in the chest hits them in the head.

    And if you say “Aim lower” then you can’t know the ball loose.
    Flags are sometimes called because a legal hit is a big hit.

    Also some “hands to the face” penalties are called on fairly minor contact.
    I think some of the minor contact calls should not be called.
    Save the penalties for the real hits, not the hand slightly slipping alongside the helmet.

  3. As much as I don’t like that dude at all he is correct in this.

    Plenty of QBs throw passes that get people killed. Hell Stafford use to get Megatron blown up weekly and that is probably why he wanted out.

  4. TB has a valid point but the debate would be player safety. Should the league value player health over money or bravado or ratings? Definitely not. The NFL has been laser focused on player safety for an extended period now, for good reason. What the league has done is make it so that player mistakes don’t end up causing significant, life altering injuries. Something everyone can agree on.

  5. Are you trying to tell the dude who has played in the NFL for 21 years that he doesn’t understand the rules/what he is saying? lol. That is rich.

  6. It’s hard because you want to protect players health, and to an extent headshots are bad, I don’t feel good if my team gets a fumble by seriously injuring the opponent for example. But penalizing incidental contact and such does negatively affect the game. I remember Brady getting obliterated by the bills not sliding along the sideline early in his career. And he learned from it to protect himself. Mahomes is amazing, but I remember him dancing along the sideline, getting nudged by McCourty and screaming as he fell to the ground. It’s not his fault, it’s just a completely different era of football and I liked it better before.

  7. I’ve said this for years but I’m a nobody so who cares-but I do love football. The NFL can also go back to the original overtime (sudden death) and the original kickoff format which used to be one of the most exciting plays in football.

  8. Now that’s throwback football, the way it was meant to be played. My kind of football!

    Coming from Tom Brady, I hope that carries some weight.

    Football is a tough game for tough people. Remember Tommy Jackson’s segment on ESPN- “Jacked Up”, as in “He got JACKED UP!”

    Nowadays people would be fired for celebrating big hits in football, like that.

    Soft people are always trying to soften the game, every year.

    If football is too tough for you, play soccer instead.

  9. I don’t often agree with Tom Brady, but this time I do. The offense needs to do more to protect themselves and take some of the responsibility. The Smith hit on Fields was borderline at best. I think it was only called because he landed on Fields, not so much for the helmet. But he would have been hard pressed to hit him and not land on him. In my opinion the protection for QBs has gone a step too far.

  10. Brady’s right. The league’s gone soft and the players aren’t too bright.

    That said, Brady better not make any mistakes this season…

  11. “As it relates to Brady’s suggestion that quarterbacks believe they can “run and not slide,” that’s simply not a correct interpretation of the rules.”

    bwhahahahaha, it may not be a correct interpretation of the rules but it is an absolute reflection of game day reality. A defensive player taking down a running QB knows the officials had their flags in hand the instant that he left the pocket.

  12. Thinking he referring to Mahomes when talking about QBs feeling like they don’t have to slide . Mahomes has perfected the looking like he’s going out of bounds and the defensive player lets up and he stays in picking up extra yardage or if the defender comes up and hits him it draws a flag . Defensive players are damned if they do , damned if they don’t just like Brady said .

  13. He’s not wrong.
    The NFL has made an effort to make defensive players safety conscious of their play on the field, but almost each new rule implemented over the past few decades has allowed offensive players to be more reckless and irresponsible with their own wellbeing.
    The phrase ‘defenceless receiver’ is testament to that. Choosing to leave oneself open to a big hit belies how much control wideouts, and quarterbacks, exploit those rules daring defenders to make solid but suddenly illegal tackles.

  14. In some respects he is correct in regards to QBs who run.

    There are plenty of times where we see defensive players hold up on hitting a running QB who is close to the sideline and feigning like he is about to go out of bounds only to turn up the field and get some additional yards.

    Other times, the defensive player doesn’t hold up, hits the QB and then gets flagged for unnecessary roughness even if the QB was in bounds when the hit was initiated.

  15. Brady has been saying stuff like this for years not sure why it’s surprising that he would stick up for defenders. He’s a diva, but he’s also old school about football since he’s from a different era.

  16. Can’t go high
    Can’t go low, even if you just beat a double team and your stumbling to the QB to trip him up. Penalty, going low. Ask Matt Milano

  17. He’s right.

    Disproportionately, defensive players bare the brunt of “lowering” fouls. We have seen many, many offensive players lower their head and not get called for this. In some situations the offensive player lowers his head into the defensive player and the ref throws a flag on the defensive player.

    They’re gonna kill this sport like they killed the NBA. That sport looks like a all-star, no-defense game. Sad

  18. I will agree that the protections have gotten a little out of hand. However, the example of the hit Fields took by Andre Smith is a bad example of it. Fields didn’t sense the incoming pressure and deserved to be hit hard. However, it definitely was helmet to helmet without the “drop” they’re talking about. Anybody that says otherwise is blind or biased.

  19. Just as Mac Jones is about to start his career, Brady is questioning rules that protected him and allowed him to have success for most of his career. Coincidence? I think not.

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