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Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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Old 09-21-2011, 10:52 AM   #1
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Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

Something ive never like about the hard hitting rules is that I feel like in many situations the defender is without other options. Id like to start this thread to discuss rules relating to hits where it seems the player was wrongly penalized or fined, or to discuss rules in question to better understand them. Also since there seems to be a lot of subjectivity to illegal hitting rules I think talking about why a ref or the NFL was right or wrong might help clear things up (at least for me).

Starting off ive watched CB Dunta Robinson’s hit on Jermany Maclin many times and I think he was rightly flagged but there was nothing else he could have done.

Dunta Robinson starts converging to Maclin once he recognizes the play and as Maclin is also coincidentally converging to Robinson, at this point they are about 12-15 yards away from each other. When Maclin makes the catch Robinson is about 4 yards away. At this point Robinson has 3 viable options, 1) hit Maclin in the body, 2) whiff the body and try to take Maclin down via arm tackle, or 3) let up as much as possible and let Maclin run over him.

Robinson chose a combination of hitting Maclin in the body and letting up. Robinson initially lets up right while he is standing on the edge of the painted “40” yard marker, at which point Maclin breaks slightly to the inside of the field, however; is still moving towards Robinson while accelerating. Its important to note that after Maclin catches the ball he is moving at a faster rate than Robinson since Robinson had let up at this point and come to an almost complete stop. Robinson then cuts into Maclin’s path, scrunches down and hits Maclin’s right arm (ball carrying arm) and shoulder with his own shoulder. Maclin knows the hit is coming and tenses up right before the contact. Also worth noting is right before the hit Robinson’s helmet hits the lower portion of Maclins facemask, this seems minor and incidental, and is likely the reason the helmet to helmet contact rule wasn’t cited in Robinson’s fine.

Robinson was fined under the following rule:

It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture.

(a) Players in a defenseless posture are…(2) A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner.

I completely believe Maclin was guilty of this rule, but I think this rule is complete BS.

In this play Robinson chose the safest way to hit Maclin, without allowing Maclin to gain additional yards. If he had let up completely he would of gotten trucked a la Laron Landry Brandon Jacobs 2008, which is not only embarrassing but also dangerous for the defender. His other option would be to whiff on the tackle and try and wrap a arm around Maclin. This would allow Maclin to gain additional yards after contact if brought down and giving that Maclin is taller and heavier and was moving faster than Robinson and to Robinson’s inside I would make the posture that Maclin would have broken free and gained many additional yards. I would also say that if Robinson made a arm tackle in this situation there would be a significant chance of injury to the arm/shoulder.

Im not big on Yahoo! Sports fan but this article makes several good points:

Quote:
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said that he felt the Robinson hit was clean, and said "that's the way we teach it." On Monday, Smith said that his opinion hadn't changed.

Smith didn't represent himself in a way that would make people understand, but in a way, he does have a larger point. NFL defenders are taught to converge on receivers in zone pockets (the Falcons play a lot of zone in the 4-3 base defense) as the highest possible speed while still maintaining the control required to avoid whiffing on a tackle.

As we wrote on Monday, the Maclin and Jackson hits also reflect one unfortunate reality of NFL football — given the quickness of the game and certain schematic issues, a quarterback who leads his receiver into a zone pocket with defenders converging on him at full speed is essentially betting on physics and hoping against hope that the guy closing in on his receiver in the way he has been taught will be able to pull up in time.
It's not really a safe bet, no matter how many rules the NFL puts in place.
link and video:

Dunta Robinson fined $40K for Maclin hit, Falcons coach says ‘That’s the way we teach it’ - Shutdown Corner - NFL*Blog - Yahoo! Sports

Basically when the theres a zone defense on the field you run a much much higher likelihood of this type of hit. In my opinion its more the offensives players fault for these hits then it is the defensive player fault, and I think that’s something to be very concerned about. If a player is flagged for a illegal hit the penalty is 15 yards from the spot of the foul. In my opinion offensive coordinators would be foolish not have plays on their books that look to take advantage of the current hard hitting rules given the amount that there is to gain from a big hit.

Maclin was put in a situation where there was a significant probability of getting “jacked up” and to me that’s very troubling. Robinson really had no other option considering the defensive scheme he was in. Perhaps zone coverage should be illegal?

Thoughts?
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:55 AM   #2
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

That is good analysis, however I still say he ducked his head and lead with his helmet.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:01 AM   #3
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

He ducked his head and thrusted up and at the WR and his head made the first contact to the chin. . Sorry that was not a legal hit and that hit was one where I feel he was trying to injure the other player. I enjoy a good hard hit as much as the next guy but that was not needed.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:24 AM   #4
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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That is good analysis, however I still say he ducked his head and lead with his helmet.
Okay thats something i didnt think about at all. Do you know if its illegal to duck your head and lead with your helmet in all tackle instances or jut when your smashing your helmet into another players helmet?
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:29 AM   #5
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

What the rule makers and fine makers fail to realize is it so easy to see a play in slow motion and theorize the tackler could have done this or should have done that. In some cases the game and play is so fast that the defensive player/tackler is lucky just to make contact with a WR that runs at 4.3 speed. Much less does the tackler have the options to decide where he is going to hit the offensive player.
The other point you already talk about is the issue when the offensive player lowers his head at the last second and thus accidentally makes head to head contact with the defensive player. That is not the defensive players fault.

Last edited by Defensewins; 09-21-2011 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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Originally Posted by firstdown View Post
He ducked his head and thrusted up and at the WR and his head made the first contact to the chin. . Sorry that was not a legal hit and that hit was one where I feel he was trying to injure the other player. I enjoy a good hard hit as much as the next guy but that was not needed.

See i dont think its possible to duck your head and thrust up. I think when he came up it was because of the contact; he was knocked back and up. If you look closely Robinson's helmet only hit the bottom of his facemask. To me he wasnt trying to hurt him he was trying to go as low as possible on him while Maclin was coming at him, and that was as low as he could possible get.

Either way i dont think there is anything else that Robinson could have done, which makes me think should zone coverage be illegal since it forces these kind of hits.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:33 AM   #7
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

He's gotta keep his head up. I don't think it was a dirty hit, but anytime you lower your head in a situation like that it's gonna be flagged and fined these days.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:30 PM   #8
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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Originally Posted by Mattyk View Post
He's gotta keep his head up. I don't think it was a dirty hit, but anytime you lower your head in a situation like that it's gonna be flagged and fined these days.
bingo, it would have been completely legal if he wouldn't have lowered his head. it's as much of a safety concern for the receiver as it is for the defender. from day one the first rule you learn as a defender is see what you hit, when you drop your head down you have a greater chance of a spinal injury. when you lower your head your body doesn't take the impact from the hit you spine does. imo robinson needs to learn how to hit with his head up to stop avoiding getting fined and flagged. and smith needs to enforce this in practice, if it keeps coming up with the smae guy on the same team i think not only should the player be fined but the coaching staff should take a hit as well.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:38 PM   #9
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

dunta could have kept his head up. he had that option.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

He could have kept his head up and still hit him square in the face-mask with his face-mask. I am not sure what keeping his head up would have done to avoid the helmet to helmet hit. Putting his face forward wouldn't change the positioning of his head in general just what part of his head he hit him with. He lowered his shoulder and ducked his head and gets flagged for what? Getting his body into the proper position to make a good tackle? Seems crappy to me. It's unfortunate that Maclin got hit in the head but it was also unavoidable outside of completely changing the tackle positioning which presented competitive risk. The rule simply can't be so black and white... well I guess it can but it looks stupid and causes a load of other competitive issues that apparently the NFL doesn't really care about. They only care about perception of safety for some reason right now.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:02 PM   #11
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

If he would have kept his head up and just hit him with his shoulder, perhaps there's a still a penalty, but I would bet there wouldn't have been a fine.

It's simple, see what you hit. Lowering your head is a guaranteed flag and fine. Just the way things are now.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:17 PM   #12
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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Originally Posted by Mattyk View Post
If he would have kept his head up and just hit him with his shoulder, perhaps there's a still a penalty, but I would bet there wouldn't have been a fine.

It's simple, see what you hit. Lowering your head is a guaranteed flag and fine. Just the way things are now.
Agreed. Keep your head up, see what you hit, and don't lead with your helmet and you won't be fined.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:26 PM   #13
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

What I want to see is offensive players fined/flagged when they lead with their helmet. You see a running back constantly drop their helmet into the defenders helmet and create that helmet to helmet contact. Why should a RB be able to lead with his head into a pile?
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:29 PM   #14
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

Do RBs hit defenseless players that often? I think that's what this boils down to, and why it doesn't apply to RBs.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:50 PM   #15
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Re: Understanding Hard-Hitting Rules

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Originally Posted by Mattyk View Post
If he would have kept his head up and just hit him with his shoulder, perhaps there's a still a penalty, but I would bet there wouldn't have been a fine.

It's simple, see what you hit. Lowering your head is a guaranteed flag and fine. Just the way things are now.

What FRPLG is saying is that if he had his head up he would have made a helmet to helmet hit, which is illegal. I completely agree with FRPLG and also think that a helmet to helmet hit would be considered "worse" in the sense it would draw a larger fine. Honestly i dont think there was anything he could of done that would have stopped the receiver at or in the immediate area of the point of contact without being fined.

Does anyone know the rule around "leading with your head"? Is that actually anywhere in the rule book? I always thought leading with your head applied to helmet to helmet stuff.

While Robinson's helmet did grace Maclin's facemask the hit came from Robinson's shoulder to Maclin's arm/shoulder. And the rule he was fined under is the defenseless receiver rule, nothing around leading with his head. So even if he had his head up and somehow managed to not hit Maclin's helmet he would have been flagged and fined under the defenseless receiver rule.

I think he is guilty of the defenseless receiver rule, but as I stated above that rule is completely bs. If you dont want defenseless receivers to get hit hard make zone coverage’s illegal or have a offsetting penalty on QB's for leading the receiver into an unavoidable hit. If its a penalty on the QB then DB's will know they can completely let up and it wont matter because the pass is going to be called back, and if the DB goes through with the hit then fine him. Its not just the safety of the receiver, the defender often gets seriously hurt too.
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