Football coaches used to tell their players “don’t think, just play.” That doesn’t work anymore, though, as defensive players have to be extra cautious with the way they tackle now for fear of being penalized.
To further protect the quarterback, the NFL has tweaked its roughing the passer rule this season to now out-law driving the QB to the ground. Essentially, a defensive player can’t land on the quarterback with their body weight.
Rule 12 of the NFL rulebook now states: “A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuff- ing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one- step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or vio- lently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.”
With the increasing concerns of CTE and head injuries, the game of football is under more scrutiny than ever.
The NFL has done its part to address those concerns by adjusting its rules to better protect defenseless offensive players.
However, there comes a point where the nature of the game can be compromised. The new NFL rule makes it extremely difficult for a defensive player to know how to tackle the quarterback without getting a penalty.
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