Comp. committee clarifies techniques on sack fouls

Recent controversy over the NFL's point of emphasis on a defender avoiding the placement of body weight on a quarterback prompted the NFL competition committee to meet Wednesday night via teleconference.

The committee determined that no changes would be made to the point of emphasis, which was approved during the league's annual meeting in the spring, or the roughing the passer rule, which has included the body weight provision since 1995, NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent announced in a statement.

Vincent also points out in his statement, however, that the committee clarified techniques that represent an infraction in an effort to provide uniformity with officials making the calls.

In total, there have been 34 roughing the passer penalties through three weeks of action. New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, a member of the committee, pointed out during a Wednesday teleconference with reporters that some called penalties were wrong and there was a need for consistency among officiating crews.

The league provided a video narrated by senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron showing four examples of a foul and four examples of legal contact on a quarterback to avoid the placement of full body weight.

Missing from the video was Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews' penalty after his sack of Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith drew a flag, marking the second consecutive week Matthews was penalized for roughing the passer.

Matthews, speaking to reporters Thursday, isn't sure how the video provides a clear definition of what constitutes a legal hit on a quarterback.

"After seeing the video, too, all hits on the quarterback that came from straight on, which is what they teach you since Pee Wee football with running backs, receivers or whatever is to approach them head on if you can," Matthews said, per The Athletic. "Those were all illegal hits [on the video], much like the two hits I had on Cousins and [Alex] Smith last week, which were conveniently left out of the video.

"All of the acceptable hits which were legal came from off the edge or quarterbacks that were trying to fight out of a sack," Matthews continued. "If they continue to call it like that, I think there's going to be more penalties, players are obviously going to be upset, coaches are going to continue to not know how to coach it and fans will continue to be upset by the fact that the NFL can't seem to get out of its own way."

While the league backed the officials for penalizing Matthews against Washington, the play was among numerous examples from Week 3 to draw league-wide confusion and comments from players.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content