The NFL has re-emphasized the roughing-the-passer penalty this season, and while protecting quarterbacks is certainly an admirable goal, their decision has also generated some controversy as the first few weeks of the season has seen a noticeable uptick in flags for roughing.
This includes Clay Matthews, who has been whistled for roughing the passer in every game this season, including this week against the Washington Redskins. Says referee Tony Corrente, the call was made because Matthews “landed on the quarterback when he was tackling him with most or all of his body weight.”
See for yourself!
Either way, Matthews wasn’t happy, sounding off on the lack of leeway being afforded to defenders as they tackle quarterbacks.
“Unfortunately, this league is going in a direction that a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft. The only thing hard about this league is the fines they levy down on guys like me that play the game hard.” —Clay Matthews
As he also notes, Matthews spoke to Washington quarterback Alex Smith after the game, asking if there was anything he could’ve done differently on the play while tackling him from the front.
Finding the right balance between player safety and allowing football players to make reasonable football plays can be tricky, but it’s sure to be a conversation that continues as the league adjusts to the changing landscape.