During a conference call this week, the NFL competition committee chose not to push for any changes to the roughing the passer rule that has caused so much controversy this season. No changes were proposed regarding defenders putting their body weight on a quarterback when making a hit or sack.
However, according to several people who were on the call, the expectation is that there will be fewer roughing the passer calls moving forward. The league is emphasizing to officials they need to be sure a player applied all or most of his body weight when making a hit before throwing the flag, sources said.
The Matthews hit was of the "scoop-and-pull" variety, and it’s considered a judgment call. However, the emphasis on the competition committee call was every element must be present to throw the flag — in this case, a scoop, a pull/lift and body weight — and the consensus was Matthews didn’t land on Cousins with his all or most of his weight.
Accordingly, Matthews was not fined for the Cousins hit, which played a significant role in the Packers‘ 29-29 tie with the Vikings, nor was he fined for his postgame comments. Matthews has had three roughing the passer penalties this season.
The body-weight provision is the primary reason behind the increase in roughing the passer flags. Through three weeks last season, there were 20 penalties. This year, there have been 30.
The NFL released a video this week showing examples of what to do and what not to do with the goal of being consistent and clear. In truth, the league almost never changes the language of a rule during the season. But the belief is roughing the passer penalties will go down moving forward.
NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent released a statement Thursday saying there would be no change to the point of emphasis or to the body-weight rule. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the focus is on several techniques including, but not limited to, scooping behind the QB’s legs, pulling and landing on him with body weight.
The ultra-simplified message from the competition committee to officials is this: See the entire act. Make sure you see all of it. If you aren’t sure, don’t throw the flag. The NFL can always review the play later and issue fines if warranted.
The approach likely will bring the number of penalties down. Meanwhile, the eight-member competition committee does have a regularly scheduled call this coming week, but sources say roughing penalties won’t be on the agenda.