Roughing-the-passer calls frustrating defenders around NFL

Oct 12, 2022, 3:56 AM | Updated: 3:58 pm

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) scrambles away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackl...

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) scrambles away from Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

(AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Defensive players around the NFL are frustrated about roughing-the-passer penalties, questioning what constitutes a legal hit and wondering how far referees will go to protect quarterbacks.

Two disputed calls in Week 5 — one involving Tom Brady — sparked outrage among players, coaches and fans, prompting many to ask for change. The league plans to discuss roughing calls, but no changes are imminent.

“They make it really hard for a defensive player,” Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner said Wednesday. “There’s certain things you can’t do in mid-air. I’ve seen some superheroes do it, but this is not the comics.”

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan joked about a solution.

“I’ll bring a blanket with me … and I’ll be able to place it before I put him on the ground ever so gently to caress and sing him a lullaby,” Jordan said. “I don’t know. We’ll have to deal with it just like we’ve dealt with it the last couple years.”

The outcry began when Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett was flagged for slinging Brady to the ground during Tampa Bay’s 21-15 win Sunday. The more egregious call came Monday night when Kansas City’s Chris Jones stripped Raiders quarterback Derek Carr from behind and landed on him while also coming up with the ball. Replays showed it was clearly loose and that Jones cleanly recovered, but referee Carl Cheffers threw a flag for roughing the passer.

“I think it’s absolutely insane,” Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen said. “First of all, with the Chris Jones one. It was strip-sack, the ball was out, so it was a loose ball before he even took it to the ground. I think that was a stupid call. I don’t know what they’re protecting on that one. Landing on top of him? It’s a loose ball. That one, I can’t explain that one.”

Jones suggested making roughing-the-passer penalties subject to video review. That decision must go through the league’s Competition Committee — comprised of six team owners/executives and four head coaches. Teams can also propose rule changes to be voted on by owners, which require 24 votes to pass.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told The Associated Press on Wednesday he would support replay for these penalties.

“I think that’s a wise way to go because there’s too much inequity with what’s able to be challenged and reviewed and what’s not,” Irsay said. “You challenge that call in Kansas City, you win every time. It’s not even close. So I think that’s the way to go. Nothing ever makes it perfect. It’s a fast game, and there’s emphasis put on safety now, as it should be. But you can’t go overboard and ruin the game because the game is special.”

Despite the grievances, roughing-the-passer penalties are down 45% from this point last year. Through Week 5 in 2021, 51 were called. Only 28 have been called this season, according to league stats.

A person with direct knowledge of the matter told the AP the league isn’t planning to make any rule changes. The topic will be discussed when NFL owners meet in New York next week, but the league doesn’t want to be reactionary because of a few blown calls. The league experimented with reviewing pass interference in 2019 and ended it after one season.

Quarterbacks aren’t complaining, of course.

“Keep protecting me as much as possible,” Cleveland Browns QB Jacoby Brissett said. “As many times I can get one, I’ll take one, so I’m not going to complain about that.”

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes saw the call go against his team, but he still sees both sides.

“It’s something where they’re trying to protect the quarterbacks,” Mahomes said. “They’re trying to find the right medium of protecting us, but at the same time letting us play football. This past week was a small window of bad roughing-the-passer penalties, but in the grand scheme, I think they’ve done a good job and they’re going to get better at it.”

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen pointed out that reviewing roughing calls opens the door to other penalties.

“There’s a lot of variables, I think, that go into it,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of other things that are just so arbitrarily called, personal fouls, unnecessary roughness, the unsportsmanlike conducts. You can talk about holding, too. I mean, there’s going to be some that are missed and some that are called that aren’t it or they missed one here or there. And there’s just a lot of variables. These refs are doing the best that they can given the rules. … I think you just got to let them play sometimes. It’s football.”

Football is a violent sport. Quarterbacks are the highest-paid players and the face of the franchise for many teams.

The NFL rulebook allows referees to err on the side of caution to protect QBs. That’ll never change, no matter the complaints.


AP Sports Writers Tom Withers, John Wawrow, Dave Skretta, Brett Martel, Greg Beacham and AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long contributed.


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi


More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Roughing-the-passer calls frustrating defenders around NFL