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Edge rushers revolt at NFL’s over-protection of QBs

Offense Perseveres

Photo Credit by John McMullen/JAKIB Sports

PHILADELPHIA – Haason Reddick is getting $15 million a season to go sack the quarterback for the Eagles.

The fine print to that reality, however, is a constantly evolving Snapchat-like decree that may change on a dime or even disappear for a new directive depending on the social media angst that is driving NFL reaction these days.

The high-profile head injury suffered by Miami signal caller Tua Tagovailoa is believed to be ground zero for the heightened concern over the health of QBs. It was the reaction to perceived mistakes by an independent neurologist to an earlier back injury by layman ill-prepared to offer any kind of meaningful opinion that set off a chain reaction that resulted in a pair of ridiculous roughing-the-passer penalties during Week 5.

On Sunday, it was the Falcons’ Grady Jarrett textbook takedown of the Bucs’ Tom Brady and that was followed a day later by a laughable call on Kansas City’s Chris Jones for what should have been a strip sack of the Raiders’ Derek Carr.

“Here I am trying to get to the quarterback, so you want me to take time to think about how I’m going to tackle him or bring him down to the ground?” Reddick, who has 4 1/2 sacks through five games, said on Wednesday as the Eagles began their preparation to play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

“In this league now, we have QBs that scramble really, really well. Like, if I’m trying to do my job, I can’t…that’s a split-second…(snaps fingers). As soon as I touch him he could go down like that and the play might be over, so how can I have full awareness on what my body is doing, especially in today’s league?

The common sense continued to flow from there.

“I can’t be sitting around thinking how I’m going to approach a tackle on a QB because he’s a QB,” said Reddick. “What if I’m trying to figure out how to do it, and now he breaks out of it and he’s scrambling down the field for 20 yards or he threw a deep bomb because I’m worried about not getting a penalty?”

Brandon Graham was even more succinct with his feedback.

“Something has gotta be done,” the veteran said. “We work too hard for sacks as it is and it’s already hard enough to get it. … I don’t know if I should say, but I’ll say it: they pay the quarterbacks a lot.

“Whatever we break, they can get it fixed.”

Down In Dallas, Cowboys star Micah Parsons added his two cents.

“I mean, it’s tough,” Parsons admitted. “We kinda got a small margin of how to tackle quarterbacks and it’s a physical game. It’s tough. I understand why. the strides that make a difference and try to keep players safe, but at the end of the day, we’ve got a job to do.”

Quarterbacks generally have a different take, of course.

“I think there’s a balance with it,” Jalen Hurts said. “Obviously, I want to be protected back there. But those are things that I really can’t control, so I just kind of let [the officials] do their job.”

The Associated Press has reported that NFL owners will discuss the roughing-the-passer rules at their league meeting next week in New York.

Referee Carl Cheffers vehemently defended the awful decision on Jones to a pool reporter after Kansas City fought back to edge the Raiders.

“The quarterback is in the pocket and he’s in a passing posture,” said Cheffers. “He gets full protection of all the aspects of what we give the quarterback in a passing posture. So, when he was tackled, my ruling was the defender landed on him with full body weight. The quarterback is protected from being tackled with full body weight.

My ruling was roughing the passer for that reason.”

Jones said the enforcement of the rule “is getting absurd.”

“What am I going to go to him and say, ‘How should I tackle? How should I not roll on him?’” Jones said. “I’m trying my best. I’m 340 — 25 pounds, OK? What do you want me to do? I’m running full speed trying to get to the quarterback, I hit the ball, I braced my hands.”

Reddick sees a conundrum but will not change his approach.

“I don’t want to be a guy that gets penalties and does any damage to the team,” he said. “I don’t have an answer for you as far what I can do to change. I haven’t gotten one of those calls, yet so I’m not really complaining. Evidently, something I’m doing is kind of right. Maybe I just try to continue to go for the strip sack.

“I really don’t have an answer as to what can change, what I can do. All I can do is to try to go out there and give my best effort and hope for the best.”

Reddick did have one request, however.

“The fans want to see us go out there and play football, so let us go out there and play football.”

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