Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

18 Oct 2010

MMQB: Time For the NFL to Get Serious About Big Hits

This week, PK details a bad week for the refs, a REALLY bad week for anyone in the way of James Harrison's helmet, Ben Roethlisberger's return, the one thing that will apparently will keep Deion Branch from the Hall of Fame, and why it may just be time to shut down professional sports in Tampa altogether.

Posted by: Doug Farrar on 18 Oct 2010

109 comments, Last at 14 Sep 2011, 5:15pm by Velazquez35Harriet

Comments

1
by rfh1001 :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:06am

Deion knows his funny, right? Does PK? I know there's more to the story than this, but it's the thing that shouts out at me. One of them's humorous and one of them is humourless.

Though, now I think about it for a moment, I think that PK's blind, heroic, pooterish humourlessness is one of the things that make him endearing instead of maddening. The bit where he feels it needs stating that Amani Toomer is a better runner than him is great.

95
by MidnightAngler (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:51am

I have a lot of concerns about these developments. I'll summarize as follows:
1) How can officials consistently recognize a helmet-to-helmet hit at full speed, at field level? Its one thing to watch hi-resolution video in slow motion from multiple angles. To expect a conclusive determination to be made by a guy who might be 15 or 20 yards away is unrealistic.

2) The 15-yard penalty encourages offensive coordinators to design plays in which receivers are "defenseless" (that is, across the middle of the field). We've already seen more throws to the middle of the field since the defenseless reciever rules were first implemented. The current line of thinking seems to be that defensive players are solely responsible for the safety of offensive players, and that offensive coordinators bear no responsibility. Running a 5-yard crossing route into Ray Lewis has a predictable outcome. We all know this.

My belief is that the NFL should implement suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits, but that the 15-yard penalty should be eliminated so that offensive coordinators do not have added incentive to put receivers into high-risk areas. If you really want to protect the players, you can't ignore the role of play design. Throws outside the numbers and down the field are far less likely to lead to these sorts of collisions. These throws used to be more popular for a reason.

2
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:19am

Hitting cant be legislated out of football.

King actually seemed to be more offended by the Merriweather hit.

As for Harrison:

Cribbs was acting as a RB. No helmet to helmet rule applies.

Massaquoi (sp?) appeared to lower his own helmet to meet the hit. Harrison led with his shoulder. He didnt lower his head.

8
by CoachDave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:51am

On how many threads are you going to wrong about your inability to understand the helmet-to-helmet rule?

The defense player is responsible for maintain their placement of their helmet in a tackle no matter what position the ball carrier plays.

Spearing is spearing, period. The "defenseless receiver" rule was put into play to further clarify a rule that NFL refs have for decades sucked at using (i.e., helmet-to-helmet hits) but "spearing" still exists and is a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.

And only a delusional Steeler Homer would think about claiming Harrison led with his shoulder. His head is clearly down, that's a textbook spear.

15
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:17am

Apparently the refs didnt read the textbook. Neither was called a penalty. So...who is more reliable, NFL refs who get paid to do what they do...or some random jackass on the internet?

18
by tally :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:30am

Refs are human; they miss things.

Random jackasses on the internet are Anonymous, and apparently there are at least 23 of them.

23
by Spielman :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:19am

I'll take the random jackass on the internet with reading comprehension skills over the random anonymous jackass with an apparent belief in the omniscience of football officials.

42
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:23pm

Spearing is leading with the crown of the helmet.

http://www.cleveland.com/pluto/blog/index.ssf/2010/10/terry_plutos_prega...

This picture shows that he clearly didnt.

Random jackass 0, refs 1.

46
by tally :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:49pm

Why are you posting a link that states he went helmet-to-helmet twice?

That picture isn't conclusive one way or another.

Helmet-to-helmet hits are illegal regardless of who the offensive player is.

47
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:56pm

The picture is quite conclusive. Spearing is leading with the crown of the helmet. If you draw a straight line up from the crown of Harrison's helmet, there is nothing but empty air.

I would really like someone to find the rule that says that helmet to helmet hits are illegal regardless of the situation.

51
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:16pm

He *lowered his helmet* at the last moment, and it hit the other guy right in the helmet. You shouldn't get a free pass just because the timing of your dangerous, illegal hit was a little off due to the movement of the other player.

More importantly, to any official worth a damn, it absolutely would've looked exactly like spearing. Take a look at the replay on NFL.com, at 21 seconds in, and Harrison's staring straight at the ground, with this helmet clearly leading. The umpire should've seen him go horizontal, the player flail backwards, and immediately grabbed for a flag. It was a no-brainer.

52
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:25pm

So you are saying the Harrison led with the crown of his helmet, hit Massaquoi in his helmet, and Massaquoi's head...rather than snapping backward, actually dropped several inches and move to the side? Impressive physics.

53
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:35pm

No, I'm talking about the Cribbs hit. In that one, he lowered his helmet to spear Cribbs in the helmet, but Cribbs's helmet struck his before it was completely horizontal.

Then Cribbs's head snaps back (due to banging into the top of Harrison's helmet) and Harrison continues his action, and ends up in an absolutely classic spearing pose, with the line in the helmet perpendicular to the ground.

There's zero doubt in that one. I mean, the Massaquoi hit was similarly awful, but I don't think there's currently a rule on that one, and that's what they should change - intentionally hitting a receiver high.

54
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:46pm

The Cribbs hit could possibly result in some discipline (I'd have to look at it more closely, most here have been harping on the Massaquoi hit which was clearly not spearing despite being called a "textbook case" of it). He didnt launch himself (i.e. leave his feet) and Cribbs was going down at the time, so I'm not sure what else he could have done short of not trying to stop the ball carrier.

Either way, people are set in their opinions...so we'll just wait to see how it turns out. The refs didnt think either hit warranted a penalty, we'll see what the NFL does. Based on the media uproar, they will probably hand out fines if only to save face.

62
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:16pm

"He didnt launch himself (i.e. leave his feet)"

Yeah he did, actually. I'd show you the frame of the video if I could, but if he isn't completely off his feet, he's so close that the refs should've called it anyway. Penalties like that should be called with a little leeway as to what happened (i.e. Kevin Kolb's 'horsecollar tackle' - it wasn't one, but it was close enough that I'm okay with them calling it) because it's not a 'technical' issue with the game - not like "was the hand empty coming forward." You shouldn't get to 'game' the rules to spear people.

"and Cribbs was going down at the time, so I'm not sure what else he could have done short of not trying to stop the ball carrier."

Please, please, watch it again. He didn't aim for Cribbs's body. He aimed for his head. Saying "I'm not sure what else he could've done" just sounds really, really insane - he could've not aimed for Cribbs's head!

Whatever team you're a fan of, whatever you think of Harrison, that hit absolutely does not belong in football.

63
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:24pm

I just watched the video again. Harrison did not even come close to leaving his feet. I cant image how you could possibly say he did.

I can understand your gripe about the helmet contact, but he by no stretch of the imagination launched himself. The only time his feet left the ground was after the hit when he was on his way to the ground.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxNchGcD85Y

40 seconds in.

66
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:47pm

Move 2 seconds forward. Off his feet, staring straight at the ground. That's a spear. He just hit the guy a little earlier than a 'classic' spear, but they should've flagged that. The intent was clearly there, and it probably damn well looked like a spear to the umpire.

Not much of a launch, but hey, they don't specify launch velocity. Good enough.

69
by John Doe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:48pm

"The NFL confirmed to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Harrison's hit that knocked out Josh Cribbs was legal, but they are reviewing the Massaquoi hit."

Will you further argue your obviously incorrect statements or will you now repent.

71
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:09pm

Repent? Unlikely. People have made their stands, and not the refs, the NFL, or God himself could get them to admit error.

73
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:02pm

Hm your style of discussing, I'm not a fan, but I have to admit that I agree with you. Let it be said, I agree because I saw the hits myself.
The Cribbs hit was unfortunate, but not a spear.
The Massaquoi hit was illegal though. Not dirty as people point out, since a linebacker can't help it that a rookie Qb is throwing the ball, but still... illegal.

74
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:14pm

Sorry, I get defensive when people start insulting me right off the bat.

As for your assertion, we'll see. Some were certain that the Cribbs hit was illegal.

Harrison didnt appear to hit Massaquoi helmet to helmet, as the above linked picture indicates. Massaquoi had the football, as the linked picture indicates. It was vicious, but legal.

76
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:29pm

Grow a skin to criticism, it's better for all of us.
The hit on Massaquoi was illegal because he was in the act of catching and Harrison was leading with the head and/or shoulder. That's illegal.
That's why I don't think the Cribbs hit was illegal. It wasn't supposed to be a just helmet to helmet, you can see that in the speed of the moment and that he uses his arms.

77
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:03pm

Calling someone a delusional homer isnt criticism, it is name calling. I dont have patience for that and I probably never will.

And Massaquoi had touched the ball, so he was fair game. Harrison got there AFTER the ball. The picture showed that Harrison didnt hit him with his helmet. I still maintain that it was a legal hit, but like I said...we'll see.

75
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:17pm

Hits can be legal by the book, and still should've been flagged. You see it all the time with roughing the passer hits, and it's never bothered me - you need to punish the intent, not the absolute letter of the rulebook. And it's flat out impossible to watch that hit and *not* conclude that Harrison was aiming for Cribbs's head. Because, well, that's what he did.

That's what I said above - by the letter of the rulebook, it's not spearing, but it still should've been flagged, because there's no way that an official looking at it wouldn't've seen it as spearing.

78
by Anonymous23 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:04pm

No, what you said above was "Off his feet, staring straight at the ground. That's a spear"

79
by John Doe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:37pm

The NFL not only said it was legal, they said it should not have been flagged. As the other poster mentioned, you did call it a spear, you called it a spear multiple times and rabidly defended your position. You said the official got it wrong and it should have been flagged. The NFL disagrees with you, presumably they know their own rules better than you do.

Judging intent is ridiculous. He intended to hit Cribbs as hard as humanly possible within the rules and he did so. After the game he said he tries to hurt people, but not to injure them. That is how you play linebacker in the NFL.

Sometimes there will be helmet contact and it will not be the defensive players fault. Even when attempting to execute those perfect form tackles you love so much, if the running back drops lower than the tackler, their helmets may very well collide. If a 6'4 LB attempts to properly form tackle a 5'10 RB he may not physically be able to put his helmet on the ball (at least without diving, which you are also against).

96
by bleyle23 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 10:42am

You really should view the whole play in context. Harrison is chasing Cribbs from behind and from the side. Cribbs sees Woodley and turns up-field just as Harrison ducks around an offensive lineman to lay a hit on Cribbs. Woodley manages to slow Cribbs going up-field, which leads to the unfortunate timing of Harrison and Cribbs meeting at the heads. If Woodley doesn't manage to slow Cribbs, then it's a clean body shot as Cribbs would have been at least another step ahead. If Harrison doesn't have to go around an offensive lineman then he probably squares his hit directly on the ball. You're focusing on the one frame of their heads colliding and ignoring everything that led to that specific moment in time.

58
by CoachDave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:01pm

"If you draw a straight line up from the crown of Harrison's helmet, there is nothing but empty air."

So the rational world (and the caption) sees a tackler with his helmet down, leading with the top of his helmet while making a hit and you see an imaginary straight line where empty air proves exactly what?

That the picture was taken just before or after impact? Nice job Matlock.

Reality: 1, Your Objective Credibility: -bazillion

64
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:29pm

Bazillion? What are you, five?

It doesnt matter if he leads with his helmet, it matters if he hits the receiver with his helmet.

Look at the picture. There is no way the crown of Harrison's helmet hit Massaquoi's helmet.

81
by tally :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:26pm

That picture is trash. Look at the video. It's clearly helmet-to-helmet. That's illegal.

Spearing--launching yourself helmet first, would be illegal regardless of where he hit, but that isn't the case here. It's plain helmet-to-helmet.

You can select any of a number of pictures that don't show Harrison's helmet touching the receiver's--at dinner the night before, pre-game, post-game, etc..

85
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:16am

The picture is trash? You would rather see a full speed video where it is hard to see anything because it happens so fast than a still photo the moment of impact that shows no contact between the helmets...hmmm, I wonder why that is...

Anyway, we'll see what happens.

90
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:05pm

Well, Harrison was fined in what I think was a knee jerk reaction to media outrage. Anyway, he was punished...so I will eat crow.

70
by John Doe (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:49pm

"The NFL confirmed to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Harrison's hit that knocked out Josh Cribbs was legal, but they are reviewing the Massaquoi hit."

67
by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:14pm

I think the big issue in this is that helmet-to-helmet hits are illegal, regardless of which part of the helmet you're talking about. I've always understood spearing as you do, that it's literally making yourself into a torpedo and leading only with the top of your helmet, which is stupid since you're as likely to hurt your own neck as someone else. And it's very rarely called.

All of the new helmet-to-helmet rules would not be spearing, but would still be illegal. But I think that was supposed to be only for the so-called "defense-less" players, right? If not, then pretty much any helmet to helmet contact on a tackle (if it's the first contact) automatically becomes illegal.

Either way, it's always dangerous. I think the NFL is really heading toward being a "no-hitting, only tackling" league for safety reasons.

94
by MidnightAngler (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:48am

I have a lot of concerns about these developments. I'll summarize as follows:

1) How can officials consistently recognize a helmet-to-helmet hit at full speed, at field level? Its one thing to watch hi-resolution video in slow motion from multiple angles. To expect a conclusive determination to be made by a guy who might be 15 or 20 yards away is unrealistic.

2) The 15-yard penalty encourages offensive coordinators to design plays in which receivers are "defenseless" (that is, across the middle of the field). We've already seen more throws to the middle of the field since the defenseless reciever rules were first implemented. The current line of thinking seems to be that defensive players are solely responsible for the safety of offensive players, and that offensive coordinators bear no responsibility. Running a 5-yard crossing route into Ray Lewis has a predictable outcome. We all know this.

My belief is that the NFL should implement suspensions for helmet-to-helmet hits, but that the 15-yard penalty should be eliminated so that offensive coordinators do not have added incentive to put receivers into high-risk areas. If you really want to protect the players, you can't ignore the role of play design. Throws outside the numbers and down the field are far less likely to lead to these sorts of collisions. These throws used to be more popular for a reason.

12
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:09am

Doesnt matter if Cribbs acting as QB, RB or bumble bee . Other guy made helmet to helmey contact. It is foul everytimr ulesss refs dont see

44
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:40pm

Not true. If I understand the rules correctly, there is no helmet to helmet rule per se. There is a "blows to the head of a defenseless receiver or QB" rule, and a spearing rule.

Mendenhall suffered a helmet to helmet hit as well, but I am not hearing the outrage about that. RB's are almost never afforded the luxury of getting a helmet to helmet type call.

22
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:15am

Yes it can. Abolish helmets. Rugby manages to live without helmets.

25
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:33am

Rugby doesn't have free substitution, which allowed for the specialization of players. Add in a forward pass, which creates plays in open space, and you've got faster collisions between much larger players. You couldn't just abolish helmets: you'd have to roll back the rest of the game to match up with it.

I think it's actually pretty easy to get rid of those hits, though, and it's just what they're saying. You eject people, and suspend them. Intentional or unintentional, it doesn't matter. Your body has to be positioned right when making a tackle. Period. The players will adapt and learn, but you've got to start being harsher.

But you really have to learn to start penalizing and punishing players even when bad things *don't* happen. The actions have to be punished, not the results - someone leads with their head, takes a flying leap at someone, etc. - first you send them a warning, then you fine them, then you suspend them.

29
by ChicagoRaider :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:20pm

Is it helmets, or shoulder pads that are more responsible for big hits?

103
by tomrigid (not verified) :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:45am

A fairly simple way to clean this up would be a rule such as "Any player who is determined to have intentionally led with his helmet while making contact during a block or tackle move shall be subject to immediate ejection and possible suspension."

Harrison is the grandmaster of lowering his helmet at the point of contact. He's like a Yorkshire pub-brawler. A purely dirty player, in that way, and he should be gone the next time it happens.

104
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 1:00am

I would say intentionally leading with a helmet or intentionally hitting someone else's head.

If you do either one, it's 15 yard.

26
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:33am

Rugby is infamous for its horrendous injuries, and the players are nowhere near as big and strong as NFL players.

I wonder if it's practical to design a non-rigid helmet -- something like an oversized boxing glove -- to protect the head.

30
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:22pm

Football has worse injuries; rugby has more minor injuries. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/42/7/595.abstract for example.

32
by Anonymouslol (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:34pm

Absolute tosh. Rugby injuries are nowhere near as bad at any level. And it is indisputably true that helmet to helmet hits are avoidable, because head to head shots are so rare in rugby. If you don't have a padded head, you take more care of it.

A more intelligent point to make would be that rugby hits decrease in intensity as the game goes on much more as the players have a lot more cardio work to do. There are a whole load of ways one could reduce the intensity of hits in football, not least my reducing the number of active players (would linebackers hit so hard in the second half if they were forced to be on the field for 3 defensive downs plus special teams? I doubt it). Or introducing weight classes/mandatory levels of cardiovascular fitness. Or reducing the time on the play clock, so the players get tired more quickly.

Ultimately the point is that no one really cares about the health of NFL players. Things will get changed whenever the public outcry is too loud. At some point there will probably be two or three horrific injuries in high profile nationally televised games and politicians will get involved and demand rules changes. It's just amusing that anyone thinks that the NFL has player welfare in mind at all.

34
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:46pm

Correct - the problem is that this isn't nearly as much of a concern for the league as they would like us to believe it is.

If they were that concerned about head injuries, they'd simply prevent blows to the head. They don't. There are certain types of hits that are prohibited, but there are still hits that are acceptable (for what reason, I can't imagine), and of course not all hits are even flagged, as we've seen ... and some hits are flagged even though they shouldn't be.

The other thing they could do would be to work with the NFLPA to set up a system to get repeat offenders out of the game. Occasional one- or two-game suspensions don't get it done: how many defenders would sit out a game if they knew they could knock someone else out for eight games or more?

I don't expect that will happen, though, because that would mean both parties (league and players) would admit that this is a problem, and they don't want to do that, do they? The NFLPA doesn't mind speaking up about player safety until it comes to discussing the members who aren't at all concerned about it. The NFL doesn't mind talking about player safety as long as they don't actually have to do anything specific to help.

41
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:15pm

"There are a whole load of ways one could reduce the intensity of hits in football, not least my reducing the number of active players (would linebackers hit so hard in the second half if they were forced to be on the field for 3 defensive downs plus special teams? I doubt it)"

I don't understand why not; the intensity of a hit doesn't have much to do with how tired the defensive players are. It really doesn't take that much effort to deliver a hit; it's pretty much all about angle choice and intent of the player.

I mean, obviously, reducing the number of players makes the damage to each player go up for small numbers - at some point the current game becomes untenable, which is what you're implying. But I don't think that players would change their style of play - their style of play is dictated by the allowed rules of the game and the talent level of their opposition.

72
by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:17pm

How about putting some padding on the outside of helmets as well as on the inside? The resulting collisions would be more inelastic.

3
by NoraDaddy :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:22am

I found this comment about the coffee on the Acela particularly funny:

"But the stuff they serve on the train is borderline useless, coffee-flavored water if I've ever tasted it."

I guess that's what you get for soaking coffee grounds in water - coffee flavored water.

16
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:19am

Good point. What is coffee, if not coffee-flavored water? Unless PK is wishing they'd serve him up some straight beans, which I could easily believe.

37
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:35pm

Supposedly, background noise dampens your sense of taste.

86
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:18am

Maybe he prefers chunky style.

4
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:23am

Is everybody now surprised that football is a violent sport?
It took some time, but people finally figure it out...

5
by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:30am

If you want to blame anyone for the Massaquoi hit by Harrison, blame Colt McCoy. He should never have put his receiver in that position. That throw left his receiver completely vulnerable, while a freight train was bearing down on him.

Seriously, McCoy should pay the fine. It was a dumb, rookie throw.

80
by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:16pm

No, you can't blame the QB for a defender breaking the rules. Do you blame a rape victim for wearing a short skirt?

82
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:33pm

No, you blame her parents for buying the skirt for her, duh.

6
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:37am

Can we wait and see how Branch does for at least a few more weeks before gushing all about how incredible his career would have been if he had stayed in NE, Peter?

10
by JonFrum (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:55am

There's no accounting for injury, but it's hard to imagine that his career would not have been better if he had stayed in New England. That's all PK was saying. For no more money in the long run, he took himself out of a great situation and threw the dice.

11
by KL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:03am

No, he got more money in the longer run.

While he took a 'pay cut' for 2011, I think it's pretty clear that there weren't going to be teams lined up to pay him what his base salary was next year.

20
by Jon Frum (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:33am

Which just makes the point. When he signed, he was expecting that final year money to trump the Patriot's offer. If the league's disinclination to pay him at his final year's rate is due to the Seattle situation and not his skill level, then he would have been as well off financially if he had stayed in NE, and would have been in a better career situation as well.

If he broke the bank in Seattle, it would have been moot. But he didn't.

24
by R U Serious (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:31am

King's point about Branch making less money to go to Seattle is stupid for so many reasons.

First, is there actually solid reporting that the Pats did offer Branch 6/36?

Second, what was the composition of the Pats' offer? how did the guarantted money compare to the Seattle offer? Did the 6/36 include performance bonuses he wasn't going to reach? Was it a 5/25 offer with 11 he would never get paid in year six?

Third, related to point two, analyzing which contract would have paid better in hindsight is completely different from picking which was better in 2006.

7
by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:42am

I may be guilty of homerism, but does anyone else not understand why PK thinks the Andre Johnson PI call was so obviously terrible? It seemed like a close call at best, and Flowers seemed to thrown an arm in front of him before the questionable push-off.

13
by KL (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:09am

No, it was pretty terrible that the PI was called on the defense. A no call wouldn't have been given a second thought, but Johnson pretty clearly got an advantage with the small push.

What I don't get is the PK call for PI to be a 15 yard penalty. If you illegally prevent a player from catching a ball 30 yards down field shouldn't you get the ball at that spot 30 yards down field? That seems perfectly fair to me. If it's just a 15 yard penalty I think you'd see PIs increase like crazy. Could you imagine a 70 yard hail mary where the defenders all tackle the WRs before the ball gets there and it's just a 15 yard penalty? He'd go nuts.

I think the real issue is that PI is called inconsistently at best, and generally to the offense's advantage.

48
by AHBM (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:00pm

Agreed on forgetting the 15-yard thing. DPI as a spot foul makes sense because the advantage gained by the illegal action increases directly with the distance from scrimmage. If the penalty is only 15 yards, corners and safeties have equivalent risk in trying some clutch and grab on any pass above 25 yards (assuming 60% completion rate). It makes as least as much sense as how illegal blocks and holding are called on kick returns.

56
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:57pm

15 yards for the palpably unfair act!

Derp derp coffee derp derp

----------

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

59
by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:03pm

10 yards for the palpably unfair act! (OPI)

Derp derp Steelers derp derp

60
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:08pm

point

Your head

-----------

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

14
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:10am

From what I saw, it looked like Andre Johnson pushed off and Flowers did nothing. It decided the game.

Personally, I don't get the outrage about the Jets play. The CB grabbed Holmes's facemask, I'm not really sure what the refs can do about it. I understand his point about the penalty, but that's a slightly different issue.

Personally, I hate that Offensive Pass Interference isn't a loss of down. I've seen a bunch of plays where the WR essentially tackles the DB in order to keep him from an INT. I see it being similar to intentional grounding, 10 yards and a loss of down seems a little more appropriate.

9
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:53am

Peter King writing about Derek Jeter waxing poetic about Tom Brady's winning attitude. Which circle of Hell am I in?

17
by MatMan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:28am

"There's been a Tim Tebow sighting. Came in the end zone."

Well.

19
by NoraDaddy :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:32am

Oh my. Can't blame that one on a wardrobe malfunction.

21
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:34am

That made me frown too.

28
by jtduffin :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:45am

Really? Admittedly my sense of humor is pretty sophomoric, but it made me giggle a little...

27
by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:39am

He was really excited about that TD.

31
by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:25pm

Brett favrw. Tik tebow. Coffee

36
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:47pm

Yeah, seems like that's going to be his template for the rest of the season.

33
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:38pm

See the recent tweets from NFL.com's Jason La Candora

http://twitter.com/#!/JasonLaCanfora

35
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:46pm

Judy Battista just tweeted that Anderson said NFL could change rules after the season to ban all hits with helmets.

38
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:03pm

Ah, the inevitable "He led with his helmet!" nonsense, as if the player in question had the option of attaching his head somewhere else, such as the small of his back, where it wouldn't anatomically be forced to be in front of him on every tackle. It is extremely unclear how people imagine tackling should be done: outside of tackling via ninja dropkicks or hockeyesque hipchecks, helmets are going to lead bodies into every tackle made ever.

Helmet-to-helmet against a QB in the pocket is illegal with good reason; QBs are like 6'4" or something, and in the pocket they are standing upright. There is no good football reason for helmet to helmet contact happening when a tackle on a standing 6'4" guy is performed.

Two rules that I think would make sense in an alternative universe where the league actually did care about the long-term effects of concussions:

(1) Fumbles after helmet-to-helmet hits are dead balls (reviewable). There is no more consistent way to create fumbles right now than concussing ballcarriers, which is almost always legal. This is not an ideal incentive structure in the above alternate universe; I think Harrison does go for this intentionally on a regular basis; right now dirty football is good football. If defenders knew that helmet contact had the opposite effect that it now has, preventing turnovers instead of creating them, I would expect to see a lot less in the future.

(2) Defender must attempt to wrap for tackles. This was the rule in rugby when I was playing, and while you can still make some big hits under this limitation, the vast majority of the dangerous hits we currently see wouldn't be possible. This would be a fairly fundamental change to the game though.

45
by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:46pm

This is the first time I've ever heard suggestion #1, and I really like it. But, would offensive players then try to initiate helmet-to-helmet contact? I'm guessing not, but just want to think through possible unintended consequences. Also, I wonder how often fumbles are actually the result of helmet-to-helmet contact. It seems like most fumbles are caused by helmet-to-ball, hand-to-ball, or anything-to-arm, and not so many from a player dropping it do to being unconscious. So it may not have as large of a disicentivising effect as hoped.

49
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:05pm

Harrison's had at least three helmet to helmet hits in his last two games that have taken players out; two of them caused fumbles, the third one did not create a turnover because the receiver never caught the ball. I don't watch enough football games to know how much this happens around the league, but I'd estimate such a rule would have resulted in at least three less concussions over the last two Steeler games. How many concussions would it have to prevent to be worthwhile?

57
by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:00pm

A few. I don't know. If your answer is 1, then we should probably just make helmet-to-helmet contact of any kind completely illegal, and not bother with the fumble rule, because the personal foul would take precedence over the fumble, anyway.

Anyway, I'm not arguing that a rule which would decrease concussions is bad. I'm just wondering if the rule as imagined would actually decrease concussions. It would only do so if you think that the rule would have changed Harrison's behavior. You obviously think it would have. I'm just saying that I don't know for sure ("may not have as large of a disicentivising effect as hoped").

Or, maybe I should phrase it slightly differently, and question whether it's the most effective method in terms of A) preventing concussions, while B) maintaining the essence of the game of football. There are definitely rules that would be more effective at A, while failing completely at B. I'm guessing there might also be some that are better at A, and just as good at B.

87
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:23am

Tackling with ninja drop kicks actually sounds pretty cool. I'm sure Goodell would like it, as it would increase the popularity of the game in Asia.

39
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:04pm

Ah, the inevitable "He led with his helmet!" nonsense, as if the player in question had the option of attaching his head somewhere else, such as the small of his back, where it wouldn't anatomically be forced to be in front of him on every tackle. It is extremely unclear how people imagine tackling should be done: outside of tackling via ninja dropkicks or hockeyesque hipchecks, helmets are going to lead bodies into every tackle made ever.

Helmet-to-helmet against a QB in the pocket is illegal with good reason; QBs are like 6'4" or something, and in the pocket they are standing upright. There is no good football reason for helmet to helmet contact happening when a tackle on a standing 6'4" guy is performed.

Two rules that I think would make sense in an alternative universe where the league actually did care about the long-term effects of concussions:

(1) Fumbles after helmet-to-helmet hits are dead balls (reviewable). There is no more consistent way to create fumbles right now than concussing ballcarriers, which is almost always legal. This is not an ideal incentive structure in the above alternate universe; I think Harrison does go for this intentionally on a regular basis; right now dirty football is good football. If defenders knew that helmet contact had the opposite effect that it now has, preventing turnovers instead of creating them, I would expect to see a lot less in the future.

(2) Defender must attempt to wrap for tackles. This was the rule in rugby when I was playing, and while you can still make some big hits under this limitation, the vast majority of the dangerous hits we currently see wouldn't be possible. This would be a fairly fundamental change to the game though.

50
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:05pm

Look at the Jackson/Robinson hit replay, around 36 seconds in (off of NFL.com). Then look at any form tackle video (say, http://www.usafootball.com/articles/displayArticle/7244/9102 ).

The Jackson/Robinson hit is how you *don't* do it. His hips weren't low, his knees weren't bent, he hit the opposing player at the shoulders rather than at his midsection, and, of course, his head was waaaay down.

Now look at the Harrison/Cribbs hit. Again, a great example of an absolutely terrible tackle - hips weren't low, and his head was waaaay down. Head up. Every single video a coach makes of how to tackle has the same thing - head up (It is absolutely ludicrous that that wasn't flagged). And the Harrison/Massaquoi hit. Yet another! Knees weren't really bent at all, and his head was at the same level as his shoulder, and his head was down. He actually drove through the receiver's *shoulder*.

It's not 'extremely unclear' how tackling should be done. It's actually really, really clear. You lead with your shoulder, with your head to one side, and you go low so that you're attacking the player's center-of-gravity, and you keep your damn head up.

Calling these penalties would be easy, and to be honest, if I was Eric Mangini, I would've gone out to the refs, and said "either kick him out of the game, tell him to reign it in, or something, or I'm walking my guys off this field. He's going to kill someone out there, and you're not even flagging it."

61
by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:09pm

You can intend to initiate contact with your shoulder, but your head will still be in the lead, and you can't control what the ballcarrier does.

And if not executing in accordance with commonly coached technique was a penalty, Byron Leftwich would get flagged every time he attempted a pass. Along with NFL defenders after at least 99% of tackles.

Haven't seen the Robinson/Jackson, so I won't comment, but in general helmet-to-helmet hits on ballcarriers aren't called because they aren't illegal.

As to the 'proper tackling form' video, it's not clear how you are going to create turnovers tackling like that. It's not clear what you will do in the event that some tricksy ballcarriers tries to run without standing straight up. I also question how you are going to stuff a ballcarrier in his tracks tackling like that, though I concede if he is standing up as straight as shown, you might be able to hold without much gain after contact.

65
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:33pm

"You can intend to initiate contact with your shoulder, but your head will still be in the lead, and you can't control what the ballcarrier does."

You don't tackle head on. That's bad form, because you *want* to hit with your shoulder, because then you're actually hitting with real force. Leading with your helmet only does anything if you hit the other guy in the head (or high enough to spin them off their feet). You *start* head on, but then your second step is longer, putting you at an angle.

Heck, you never want to lead with your helmet anyway (unless you're trying to knock someone out) because when you lead with your shoulder, you've got a big area that you can hit with.

"As to the 'proper tackling form' video, it's not clear how you are going to create turnovers tackling like that."

Did you listen to it? 'Bite the ball' - keep your head up, and put your facemask on the ball. That's how you pop turnovers on a frontal tackle anyway. Stripping a ball out you have to do from behind or the side.

"I also question how you are going to stuff a ballcarrier in his tracks tackling like that,"

Again, I'm confused - the best way to kill a ballcarrier's momentum is to put yours against it. That means getting your shoulders, arms, torso, down at his center of gravity. Hit him high, and he can easily redirect you since most of your initial hit will go to straighten him up (people usually say that they 'bounce' off) and then he can just redirect you.

You want to tackle, you get low, get your head up, and drive through the ballcarrier's torso. It's just basic physics - the only way you stop a moving object is with a hit of equal momentum to the other object's center of gravity. Anything else, and it's torque and the guy starts spinning.

But anyway, keeping things safe here is pretty easy. You just ban tackles where the player drives into another person's head. The first time it happens, the player gets a warning. The second time, the player gets suspended 1 game, then 4 games, then a season. In all three cases this weekend that were bad, it would've been a no-brainer call.

68
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:09pm

I know all these rules. But when you're a safety you can time a tackle so you don't need form. and then the hardest hit you can make it with the shouders/forearms/head to the shoulder area.
It's just the hardest hit you'll make.
And all this talk about the greatest safeties ever like Ronnie Lott about taking pride of roaming the middle. I'm sure he didn't form tackle every wannabe receiver.
But now all of a sudden it's illegal and players should be suspended.
That's bullshit.
.
Have to add...
The Harrison hit on Massaquoi seems illegal since it's a defenseless player and he's aiming with the shoulder/head to the players head.
Harrison should have aimed lower. I think that hit was illegal. But to be honest again, I don't think he could've hit him any lower even if he wanted to. Massaquoi was quite low already.
Wide receivers don't like throws like this.

83
by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:36am

So, were the Meriweather and Todd Heap, the Dunta Robinson and DeSean Jackson hits so bad no one is talking about them. I thought those hits were much worse than Harrison's.

88
by Eddo :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 11:16am

I think most of the focus is on the Harrison hits because a bunch of Steeler fans came in here defending him. No one has bothered calling the Robinson and Meriweather hits legal.

40
by bubqr :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:10pm

The "DPI rule is bad" thing is completely "let's overreact to recent news". If we make it a 15 yards penalty, every beaten DB will start to interfere with WRs to avoid TDs, and the next MMBQ will talk about how "Officiating is killing the game by allowing bad, mean DBs to mug superstar WRs, and "how the rules has to be changed for the sake of the game and the show".

43
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:30pm

The "DPI rule is bad" thing has been going on to a greater or lesser extent for at least five years. If that counts as overreacting to recent news, I'd be intrigued to know what else you consider recent.

84
by bubqr :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:23am

I know the debate has been going on for years in lots of places. But in PK's world, when he can focus only on the past weekend, his decision is taken : DPI should be a 15 yards penalty. I'm just saying next week he could make MMQB title : "15 yards penalty are killing the game" if Andre Johnson is tackled by a DB downfield when he was about to catch a 80 yards TD, and the penalty called is only a 15 yards one.

55
by FireOmarTomlin :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:55pm

If the NFL wants to get serious about helmet to helmet hits it should start at the line

how do you think those helmets get scratched up?

Oh it's ok though since they have no momentum and aren't skill players
---------------

Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

89
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:27pm

I've read most (though not all) of this thread, so apologies if any of these points have already been batted around.

1. Hitting with the shoulder only is not easy - especially in a lightning-fast, competitive situation. The helmet takes up a lot of room on that above-the-shoulder area, and the way runners and receivers can shift and lower themselves and dive and leap, it isn't always easy for a defensive player to know where the helmet of the other guy is going to be. How can a rule be clearly written to give instructions to players about this?

2. The rules the NFL has revised over the last few decades to open up the game has contributed to this situation. In the old days, teams used strategy to protect their players. Not anymore. There weren't 5-WR sets back in the 1970s, with comparably little guys running slants and hooks over the middle. You didn't have QBs attempting 40 or 50 passes a game, often with minimal protection.

The NFL has created a more exciting game, but they've done it at the expense of the player's health. Meanwhile, they degraded the ability of defensive players to play defense, and if they restrict hitting, it'll degrade it further. We already have games where a mediocre QB goes 25 for 30, an unheard of figure pre-1980.

I am in favor of player safety, but I hope the NFL finds a balance that allows defenders to defend. Develop rule that prevent big hits, but bring back the bump and run. Or something like that.

91
by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:06pm

Do you have any evidence that the game is more dangerous today?

Because Ditka has a cohort of retired players suffering from every medical condition known to man basically.

97
by MidnightAngler (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:50am

No way its more dangerous today. See Tatum, Jack.

92
by Mello :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:38pm

I'm about at my limit with all of these "safety" rule changes that only penalize defensive players. It's time to remove the illegal contact rule. Allow the DBs to knock receivers off their routes and play tighter coverage. This by itself would lower the number kill shots because of the tighter coverage allowed.

93
by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 9:09am

So you're suggesting address the cause, not the symptom?

100
by Mello :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 3:37pm

The illegal contact rule is only one of the causes. Possibly a minor one. My main point is that over the last 10-20 years the rules of the league have continued to place passing defense at more of a disadvantage and I believe it is harming the game. Taking violent hits on receivers out of the game just takes this even further by reducing turnovers and incompletions. I'm not sold on this being the right thing, but the NFL doesn't care. I think removing the illegal contact rule would move the balance back a small ways towards the defense and as a side benefit reduce the number of violent hits the NFL is all of the sudden worried about.

98
by chemical burn :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:50pm

how about none of the hits in question this weekend would have been avoided with the rule change you are suggesting?

99
by DeltaWhiskey :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 12:56pm

Even if it doesn't apply to these hits, it may be worth considering. Essentially, a tool (weapon) of the defense is being taken away. One way to compensate is to allow a little more nonlethal contact.

101
by Mello :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 6:15pm

What DeltaWhiskey said. I wasn't suggesting it instead of this new emphisis on the hitting rules. Also, you don't know if the change wouldn't have stopped any of the hits over the weekend. Teams would line up and cover receivers differently without the illegal contact rule.

102
by CDB (not verified) :: Wed, 10/20/2010 - 11:32pm

And then there;s this:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5708850

Why should the NFL care if the players don't care? You have Harrison threatening to quit and Chowder saying he won't stop using his helmet as a weapon. Until the players understand this is a problem there is nothing the NFL can do.

105
by tuluse :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 1:01am

Typically this is when OSHA steps in.

106
by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 10/21/2010 - 8:41am

I heard a commenter on Sirius NFL suggest that a significant portion of the leagues impetus is concerns about future liablility.

107
by FireOmarTomlin :: Fri, 10/22/2010 - 7:06am

I'd take the league a LOT more seriously if it threatened to suspend STAR skill players who actually INTEND* to use their helmet as a weapon to injure poor hapless scrubs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_YMNY1cs5g

Hell, listen to the announcers jizz over it.

Why bother trying to form tackle this flagrant cheating POS?
Knock him the Fark out before he can to you.

This incidental contact when you line up a WR/RB and he moves/ducks his head into the contact is crap to suspend for.

And again, we won't even mention all the helmet to helmet contact that happens EVERY play at the line.
------------------
Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

108
by dbostedo :: Fri, 10/22/2010 - 10:50am

I'm just going to suggest that calling Adrian Peterson a "flagrant cheating POS" because of that play is a very poor way to get your point across.

109
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