Matt Rhule’s complaint regarding Jacoby Brissett spike misses the mark

Cleveland Browns v Carolina Panthers
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I love the smell of a head coach napalming officials in the morning, However, when the coach’s complaints miss the mark, it’s not very satisfying at all. (And it could get expensive for the coach.)

On Sunday, Panthers coach Matt Rhule groused after the loss to the Browns that quarterback Jacoby Brissett should have been flagged for intentional grounding given the manner in which he executed the clock-stopping spike that set up the game-winning 58-yard field goal.

I saw Rhule’s quotes. I looked at the rulebook. I talked to people who know more than I do about interpreting and applying the rulebook than I do. (It’s a low bar.)

The key language appears under Rule 8, Section 2, Article 1, Items 3:

“Stopping Clock. A player under center is permitted to stop the game clock legally to save time if, immediately upon receiving the snap, he begins a continuous throwing motion and throws the ball directly into the ground.”

Also relevant is Item 4:

“Item 4. Delayed Spike. A passer, after delaying his passing action for strategic purposes, is prohibited from throwing the ball to the ground in front of him, even though he is under no pressure from defensive rusher(s).”

Along the way, I realized a fairly important fact. I had yet to watch the play. So I did.

Brissett immediately began a continuous throwing motion to spike the ball. He spiked it quickly. Also, while not moving his left foot, he took a big step backward with his right foot. It made the play look odd and unconventional. But it complied with Item 3.

Also, Item 4 (which some have been quoting) doesn’t apply. There was no delay in the passing action for strategic purposes. There was no delay at all.

The simplest explanation is that Rhule is feeling the heat. That’s skewing his perspective, for good reason. He needs to win enough games to remain employed. Last year, he started 3-0 and eventually had to wonder whether his buyout would save him. (It did.) This year has a distinct up-or-out vibe for Rhule.

UPDATE 10:42 a.m. ET, 9/13/22: Forget all of that and read this. The end-zone angle reveals a quick but clear fake spike from Brissett. The Browns should have been penalized.

15 responses to “Matt Rhule’s complaint regarding Jacoby Brissett spike misses the mark

  1. If he wanted to whine about officiating, he should’ve complained about the roughing the passer call where the Oline player’s arm hit the QB in the face, not the defensive players.
    He could also suck it up, not say a darn word, and fix that horrid Run Defense that still lingers from last year.

  2. It is sour grapes since it was more or less a procedural issue and I don’t even like the Panthers anyways, but your take on the play is very wrong. I was with you per the rule, until I watched the play, the feet don’t matter. He doesn’t begin a continuous throwing motion with his arm. He looks for the receivers to his right on a half step drop, and none of them moved or were looking for the ball, only the receiver on his left that he wasn’t looking at ran a route. So he then spiked it after about half a second. There was no immediate or continuous throwing motion. It didn’t change the outcome of the game, but surveying the field, then spiking the ball circumnavigates the rule. The officials making the call even said “there is no penalty, the player faked the spike, then threw the spike” which by rule would not be an “immediate and continuous motion”. That was a botched call going by the rules. Immediate means immediate just like every other spike is done. Not after you look to your receivers to see if they had the same idea to fake it.

  3. These 2 teams were trying to gift the game to one another all afternoon. This non-call was not the reason that the Panthers lost. A good head coach doesn’t whine like this to the media after a loss.

  4. Remember when his genius was going to lead them to victory after victory? Good times, good times.

  5. And why isn’t anyone talking about the fake roughing the passer call on that 3rd down play on Mayfield. That was bogus. Calls go good and bad both ways.

  6. It’s a stupid complaint that Panther fans are latching onto. People remember the Marino play back in the day that this rule comes from. Brissett didn’t do anything similar. For younger people, if you want to see what the rule was put in for, go back and search for Dan Marino fake spike against the Jets I think it was.

  7. Rule 4 seems dumb to me. I don’t have a problem with a quarterback spiking the ball to end the play at any time, unless under duress (ie, the normal intentional grounding rule)

  8. A certain type of folk became huge Baker fans for some reason this offseason. They had a bad day yesterday.

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