Can the NFL Find a Workable Balance for New Contact Rules?
You can't make all the people happy all the time, no matter how hard you try....
It's something so many leaders and organizations either don't understand or aren't aware of which is why we get debates and arguments and complaints like those flying around the NFL.
Over the first 3 weeks of the NFL season, the amount---and volume of complaints over the Shield's new "Body Weight" rule have grown---exponentially.
The players are feeling the brunt of it--especially guys like Green Bay Packers Linebacker Clay Matthews who has seemingly been penalized for the violation multiple times.
This was his most recent "Violation":
This was the previous week...it was flagged too....
One of the major arguments about this--and it's a pretty legitimate one is Matthews was exhibiting perfect tackling form, doing what he's been taught since he was "Knee High to a Grasshopper" and finishing the play.
Which in a world where players are getting hurt because they're leading with their helmets or sloppy trying to wrap up a tackle--in theory should be applauded.
Yet it is being penalized.....
And that's a problem.
Listen---don't misunderstand the dilemma here, the NFL has the right thought. They don't want players "Slamming" Quarterbacks down on the hard turf. They don't want marquee players going off the field injured. Which there is absolutely nothing wrong with.
Which is the issue: How do you balance player safety with proper technique and make everyone happy??
With the size, speed and strength of today's football players, the risk of contact injuries will continue to climb. That cat is long since out of the bag.
Defensive coaches are at a crossroads in their ability to create schemes that allow guys like Matthews and other pass rush specialists to find clean lanes to the QB. Their job is to prevent the other team from getting clean and un-pressured shots at the defense.
It's the nature and soul of the game.
Which is a big issue.
I'm all for protecting the players and trying to prevent injuries. You don't want any team being forced to have guys like Blaine Gabbert or C.J Bethard or Brock Osweiller starting games. They aren't what puts buts in seats or eyeballs on the television....
You also don't want players getting concussed or permanently injured due to a rough play. It's a delicate dance that is very, very hard to make work.
The other issue is the penalty is at the judgement of a referee or official who is trying to watch a half dozen things at a high rate of speed and processing something that happens in the blink of an eye.
I don't really have an answer for this because there is a good argument for both ends of this call or play. There are great cases to protect QB's and at the same time to let defensive players play.
What I do know is as a fan, plays like this upset me (my favorite team, the Dolphins losing DL William Hayes after trying to pull up from getting a "Body Weight" penalty).
There is not a great answer here. Maybe someone has a middle ground or a good idea on how to make this work for everyone.
If you do, I and I'm pretty sure the NFL would love to hear it....