INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s a little bit more information on the rule change concerning blows to the head of the quarterback from Rich McKay, the chairman of the NFL’s competition committee”
“It really comes out of the March meeting and a video review we had with the coaches in which we have a penalty for blows to the head of the quarterback. The standard has been talked about in our committee for a number of years and basically what we had was if there’s movement of a quarterback’s head from a blow by a defensive player, it’s a penalty.
“There are a number of plays this year that I don’t think any of us were comfortable with being fouls. And so we proposed that you insert the word forcible so the contact to the quarterback’s head has to be forcible.
“Let’s realize we have that already in the rule book if you look in our low hits to the quarterback. Those have to be forcible hits. We get a lot of plays where defensive players roll into the legs of the quarterback and there’s no foul. We get others where there’s force and there is a foul.
“That will lead to judgment, we’re putting a little on the referee as to that, but we think we have good video to show the referee what we want called and what we don’t want called, realizing that we think it will lessen penalties. We don’t think it involves player safety at all because the bottom line is if you strike the quarterback with any force in the helmet, it is a penalty. And when in doubt, err on the side of player safety.”
On the reliance on referees making a judgement call:
“It concerns me a little bit but I think it’s the right thing to do. You don’t want to create a standard that leads to 15-yard penalties, game-changing penalties just because you create a bright line. To us, that doesn’t make a lot of sense because these are pretty important penalties. So we kind of looked at it a little bit like we did with the facemask penalty, where we got rid of the 5-yard penalty and we really went to the standard of it’s a 15-yard facemask or nothing and it’s got to be a grasp and a turn. We think that standard has been applied by our officials very well. I think it gives us the chance to say if (you glance a QB’s helmet), that should not result in a 15-yard penalty and a game-changer in many instances.”