NFL protection of quarterback gone too far

Photo from Pixaby

Photo from Pixaby

As a longtime Green Bay Packer fan and, when he was on the Packers, a Clay Matthews fan, I remember a time where it seemed as if Matthews even looked at the quarterback there was a yellow flag flying somewhere on the field. 

This happened because of a rule implemented in the NFL before the 2018 season. The rule was made to protect the quarterback from being injured during a sack. It stated that the defender couldn’t land with his full body weight on the quarterback, couldn’t hit the quarterback in the head or below the knees, and couldn’t be picked up or forcefully brought to the ground.

These were huge changes to the league that many defensive players had a hard time adapting to. The ways they were taught were now illegal. Referees heavily enforced these rules, making it seem that the quarterback was immortal to some. 

Understandably, the NFL wants to decrease the amount of injuries to quarterbacks,  a good idea as the changes came the year Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, after he took a sack from Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. 

However, after the rule change, defenders had to find new ways to take the quarterback down which let more mobile quarterbacks thrive because they could move while the defenders had to arm tackle. 

Along with tackling rules, there were more concerns about the quarterback when scrambling. If the quarterback wanted to slide after running up the field, he was considered “defenseless” as soon as he started his slide, meaning the ball was dead and the quarterback couldn’t be hit by a defender. This helps dual-threat quarterbacks, quarterbacks who are good and throwing the ball while also being mobile enough to run the ball on a consistent basis. 

These rules make it very hard on the defender. As a defender you now have to assume that the quarterback is sliding and let up as soon as they do. Most of the time the quarterback will slide, but what if they don’t? What if they put their shoulder down and try to get those few extra yards. Now the defender is lost; they are out of position and have to try to make an extremely difficult play on one that should’ve been easy. 

To be blunt, this is extremely unfair to the defender in a sport that is already offensive sided. These rules, although attempting to help the safety of the players, are ruining the game. It has become very one sided, and quite frankly less fun to watch and play. Some of the best plays to come out of the sport are when guys are getting lit up. Now the defense is getting punished when the offense messes up, and lets the defender get to the quarterback. 

Many fans and players think the league is getting too soft and these rules are a big reason why. The rules are making it less enjoyable to the ones playing and the ones watching.