By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Jonathan Jones’ violent hit on Bills quarterback Josh Allen didn’t rise to the level of an ejection. It won’t rise to the level of a suspension, either.
As first reported by the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Twitter, Jones is not facing a suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit early in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 16-10 win in Buffalo. The hit knocked Allen out of the game and into the league’s concussion protocol and drew criticism from the Bills after the game.
However, NFL VP of officiating Al Riveron told a pool reporter on Sunday that Jones avoided an ejection because he turned his shoulder toward Allen prior to the helmet contact. The crown of Allen’s helmet crashed into the side of Jones’ after the cornerback turned. You can see what Riveron is talking about in the below replay angle:
This angle shows why Jonathan Jones avoided an ejection. Trying to establish shoulder contact, neither lowered his helmet nor launched into Allen, and Allen is running forward with his helmet down. Perhaps an unnecessary hit, but Allen invited contact with the way he ran here. pic.twitter.com/eB2lKWZt7D— Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff) September 29, 2019
Other replays show that Jones did move toward Allen and wasn’t stationary at the point of contact. But it’s hard to argue that Jones had other options or otherwise could have avoided the helmet contact entirely. Allen had become a runner and was pushing forward to try and get a first down, and Jones hit him just before the line to gain in his successful attempt to stop him. Despite Duron Harmon wrapping Allen up from behind just before the hit, Allen holds at least partial responsibility for initiating the helmet contact by driving forward with his helmet down.
Helmet contact happens routinely between runners and defenders, and doesn’t always warrant supplemental discipline, or even a penalty.
As Pelissero added, Jones is still being reviewed for a fine. That would not be surprising. The league certainly wants to deter players from any kind of contact that could give opponents, especially quarterbacks, head injuries.
But quarterbacks are taught to slide feet-first for a reason, and Allen just learned the hard way why Tom Brady would never put himself in position to take that hit in the first place. Any arguments that Jones deserves more punishment, or that he delivered the hit with any malicious intent, are reaching. Jones is facing a fine at most, and that’s how it should be.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.