The official explanation of ‘roughing the passer’ with Mac Jones is hilarious
Roughing the passer has simply gotten out of hand in the National Football League.
It happened to help the New England Patriots during Sunday’s loss to the Washington Commanders, so fans had to be satisfied about that. But not one person in Gillette Stadium, not one person watching the game at home, actually believed this was roughing the passer:
We say it every time … but I think this was the most ridiculous roughing the passer penalty ever called. pic.twitter.com/XaEgNVezzo— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) November 5, 2023
“Personal foul, touching the quarterback. Fifteen-yard penalty. Now let’s all go home.”
That was just a rough transcription of what referee Adrian Hill said. Anyway, the explanation from Hill after the game through a pool report – which is never good news when it comes to the officiating – is not just unhelpful, it’s kind of hilarious.
The ruling on Henry, as you may have inferred, is that he fell on Mac Jones with his body weight. That’s the kind of tackle on a quarterback that they’ve been trying to get out of the game, as it’s been a point of emphasis since the 2018 season. But in reality, it appears that Henry was trying to roll off to the side without forcing his body weight on Jones. Either way, there was no falling with the full body weight. Just a terrible call.
I would just love one of these pool reporters, one time, to ask the ref, “Why are you so bad?” But they are more professional than I.
Anyway, here’s the official transcript of the pool report. Look at how Hill explained what he wants players to do:
Question: Can you walk us through that play when KJ Henry is called for roughing the passer? What did you see? Was the call appropriate from what you saw?
Hill: “I was the calling official and the call was roughing the passer due to full body weight. The ruling on the field was that the defender came down with forceable contact, chest-to-chest. He didn’t perform one of those acts to remove most of that body weight – a gator roll or a clear to the side when he was coming in. He came down directly with that force on the player, so the category was full body weight.”
Question: In those situations where the defender is coming from that weak side and the quarterback has sort of his back turned to him, what is the defender supposed to do to avoid putting his full body weight on him?
Hill: “There are two common techniques. One we call the ‘gator roll’ where if he takes that player and rolls to the side so they both land on their side, that 90-degree rotation as he comes around. Or he comes down and breaks the fall first with hands and knees almost like in a crab-like fashion on top of the quarterback.”
Gator-roll? Friggin’ crab-like fashion?! That last one feels like it’s liable to break someone’s hand or wrist some day.
But it’s the reality of today’s NFL. Roughing the passer is going to be called closely and not always judiciously. Bad calls are going to happen, because protecting quarterbacks has been of paramount importance for a long time now.
The one on Henry against Jones, however, might have been the worst one yet.
Let me get this prediction out there for the public record: eventually, defenders will only need to get the quarterback “in the grasp” in order to get a sack. Hitting or tackling the quarterback in any way will result in a roughing the passer flag. It just feels like NFL football is trending that way. I hope I’m wrong.
Read more about the Patriots below…
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.