It appears the furor over the roughing the passer calls has gotten the league’s attention.
The competition committee is going to discuss the issue during a previously scheduled conference call next week. The Washington Post says the wording of the rule isn’t expected to be changed, but the way it’s enforced may be.
But there is strong sentiment among those on the committee that the rule should be applied differently by the on-field officials over the remainder of the season, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the controversy generated by recent roughing-the-passer penalties.
Obviously, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is at the center of the controversy. Matthews was called for a nonsensical penalty two weeks ago on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The officials and then the league said Matthews lifted Cousins up on the play while driving him to the ground. That penalty cost the Packers a win in that it wiped out what would have been a game-sealing interception from Jaire Alexander.
This past week, Matthews was penalized on a sack of Washington quarterback Alex Smith. This time, the officials and the league said Matthews’ hit was illegal because he fell on Smith with all of his body weight. That call was inconsequential because the Packers were getting whooped anyway. However, it was no less crappy.
Just about everyone — friends, foes and observers — has come to Matthews’ defense. Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger called the penalty a horrible call on Monday.
“The game happens too fast. It’s a grown man’s game. It’s not a referee’s game. You’ve got to know the game. You’ve got to be able to play the game to be able to put rules out. The game happens too fast. . . . I don’t know what you’d ask Clay to do. It’s not football.”
No, it’s not.
Matthews has expressed everything from disappointment to confusion to anger.
“What you saw there was a football play,” Matthews said following Sunday’s game. “I beat my man. I’m right in front of the quarterback. I get my head to the side. I wrap him up. . . . He gave himself up. I land on him. I pull my hands out. . . . I like the spirit of the rule. I just think we’re going in the wrong direction.”
Maybe we can get this handled before it costs the Packers anymore games?