A review by the NFL competition committee led to no changes to the controversial helmet rule established in the spring.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Wednesday following a committee meeting held by conference call that feedback from players, coaches and game officials was reviewed.
“The committee resolved that there will be no changes to the rule as approved by clubs this spring,” Vincent said, “which includes no additional use of instant replay. The committee also determined that inadvertent or incidental contact with the helmet and/or facemask is not a foul.
“As all adjust to the new rule, we will continue to provide video feedback and examples of fouls and incorrect calls to coaches, players and officials over the next two weeks and throughout the season as this new rule is implemented.”
The rule — which penalizes a player for lowering the helmet with intent to initiate contact — has been a source of confusion and frustration for players, coaches and fans alike through the first half of the preseason. The regulation was added this offseason to improve player safety, but players and coaches have been vocal about their confusion.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer opined Monday that the rule might end up costing people jobs.
Houston Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu said he is confused about what is permitted and what will be flagged — Mathieu’s first preseason action is scheduled to be this week — and other defensive backs made references to the NFL becoming flag football. San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman argued the rule is not being appropriately called against offensive players, but only against defenders.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems to be taking the rule change in stride.
“We’ve always tackled with our head up, eyes open, head back, so we can see what we hit. That’s the only way I’ve ever coached,” Belichick said. “If we do it that way, we’ll be within the rules.
“I think we understand it. I think I understand it. ... The officials have a tough job to make that judgment, but I think the rule is fairly clear cut. If you lead with your head and make contact with the opponent, then that’s a foul.”
—Field Level Media