The NFL has been no stranger to controversial roughing the passer penalties this season, but the league could be on the verge of a seismic adjustment to officiating that play and others.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent told reporters on Wednesday at the December League Meeting that there will be a “healthy discussion” about making fouls such as roughing the passer reviewable — whether via a coaches’ challenge or via a league review.
Vincent added that no potential changes would be applied during the season, and it would be an offseason topic for the league’s competition committee with a potential vote during the Annual League Meeting next March. The penalty also could result in an automatic ejection for the defensive player, per Vincent.
“The officials have been very consistent and accurate, but they are human,” Vincent said. “That will be a healthy discussion [in] the offseason with the competition committee. … I’ll be looking forward to this discussion.”
Vincent stressed that roughing the passer calls are down significantly through Week 14 this season when compared to the 2021 season (121 in 2021 to 76 in 2022), but the application of the rule has not been without controversy this season.
Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett was whistled for roughing Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during a crucial play — and would-be third-down sack — in the fourth quarter of an eventual loss on Oct. 9. The next day, Chiefs defender Chris Jones was similarly flagged for roughing when he sacked Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
In both instances, the game’s referee defended the call in an post-game pool report.
Most recently, Dolphins pass rusher Jaelan Phillips was penalized after he sacked Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert on third down during the third quarter of Miami’s loss on Sunday Night Football.
Vincent told reporters on Wednesday that he disagreed with the the call on Phillips, stressing that it was just his opinion.
“The question is how do we become more consistent,” Vincent said.
When pointed out that the automatic ejection of players for hits on defenseless players is similar in practice to college football’s controversial “targeting” rule, Vincent said that in his opinion it would be difficult to enforce and he is against a Sky Judge issuing penalties on defenders.
“I think chasing perfection is a dangerous place to go,” Vincent said.
Image & Story Credit: nfl.com