Every offseason the NFL makes a couple of rule changes with the goal of making the game safer. Starting this season the NFL has ruled that players can no longer initiate contact with his head anywhere on an opponent’s body.
If a player does so they’ll be penalized for 15-yards or possibly by ejection in egregious cases. A couple of games into the preseason many players are still having a tough time adjusting to the new rule.
“It will take time for everybody to evolve and change the game,” said Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. “At some point I feel like they’re got to be some leniency where there’s a no return rule. Sometimes there’s a point of return where you really can’t move out the way without hurting yourself.”
This issue came up a number of times during Saturday’s preseason win over the Vikings.
Cornerback A.J. Bouye was singled out for the NFL’s new targeting rule, for lowering his helmet on a tackle attempt.
“Both of our heads were lowered,” Bouye said. “I think they should offset, but I’ve just got to learn from it.”
Later in the game Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams was also flagged for unnecessary roughness, negating a sack of Cody Kessler for driving him into the turf, another point of emphasis this year for officials on the field.
“When you hit the quarterback, it’s very simple in the rule book, when you hit the quarterback, as you hit him, once you are going down with him you have to show that you are trying to go to the side and not put your full weight on him.” Said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone when asked about the play Monday. “That is what the rule says.”
The Jaguars, like every team in the NFL, have been practicing different techniques to make sure their tackling is within the new rules. But for most players feel this new emphasis makes it very difficult for them to do their jobs.
“Sometimes a guy might be blitzing and he has a target area set up and some quarterbacks are bigger than others,” said defensive tackle Malik Jackson. “So you have to do a little bit more to get them down. There’s a little gray area on how they’re going to be refereeing. I think a lot of guys are going to be upset. Defensive people we feel like we’re doing things fair. But then a quarterback may feel like we’re doing too much. We’ll see. We’re just trying to figure it out and refs are having a hard time and so are we.”