This season in football, perfectly legal blocks are considered personal fouls if they are “blindside” blocks — that is, the defender didn’t see the blocker approaching.
I get it — player safety and everything. Or, as some coaches told me when i expressed doubt about the new rule: “kids are dying out there, Bill.”
While i wonder how it is an official can easily discern whether or not a defender is aware of an approaching blocker — can’t the defender just turn his head and draw the personal foul penalty? — I understand it’s better to err on the side of player safety.
(So let’s cough up the money for the new helmets that provide much more protection for the brain, okay?)
There’s another thing that would also help protect players: enforce the rules as written.
Helmet-to-helmet contact, leading with your helmet, has been illegal for some time now. But I rarely see it called, and almost never called when the ballcarrier lowers his head, which should also draw a flag.
Twice, during a recent game, defenders took a running start and dove into a defenseless ballcarrier, leading with their helmet.
Both plays drew personal foul penalties. But that isn’t enough; both players should have been ejected.
Penalties don’t always make an impression, not while the players are still celebrating what they see as an awesome hit. Sitting out the rest of the game — and maybe the next one — would get their attention.
No one wants to see penalty flags thrown on every play. The Patapsco-Sparrows Point game a few weeks ago was like that (albeit not for many personal foul penalties) and it tedious to watch. Not to mention, it dragged out the game on a hot afternoon.
But the flags should be thrown, and players ejected, until the players start realizing what is acceptable and what isn’t. On both of the aforementioned plays, the ballcarrier was stopped; it shouldn’t be difficult for a defensive player to know it isn’t necessary to launch himself into the pile.
I still think this blindside block thing needs some fine-tuning, however. Like, only throw the flag id the defender is blasted off his feet.
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Speaking of which, how about the New England Patriots knocking Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen out of the game with a pretty vicious helmet-to-helmet hit?
(During a game in which the Patriots couldn’t do anything on offense. Funny how these sort of things happen to benefit New England, isn’t it?)
Even better was all the twisted language the Patriots used to justify the hit and their player not being ejected from the game. From a team whose quarterback famously cries and whines for a penalty flag if a defender gives him a mean look.
Imagine if the Bills had delivered a similar hit to Tom Brady. The Patriots and their fans would be calling for the offending player to be banished from the league.
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Has everyone forgotten that, entering the season, most projections had the Ravens to finish third or fourth in the AFC North? One lopsided win over the worst team in the league doesn’t suddenly make the Ravens a Super Bowl contender.