Ron Rivera says roughing the passer penalties are ‘not a good look’ for NFL

Rivera: Roughing the passer penalties are 'not a good look' for NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Week 5 NFL slate didn’t produce many memorable games, but a pair of roughing-the-passer penalties that were called have caused a firestorm.

Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, who serves on the NFL’s Competition Committee, was asked Wednesday his view on the two roughing the passer calls.

“I think it’s a little bit of a reaction to the whole concussion thing as well,” Rivera said. “Obviously, the most important position really, truly is the quarterback. I think we may get a little bit carried away trying to be careful with those guys. The last thing you want to see is a great player get knocked out of the game. I think that might’ve been a little bit of a reaction to it.”

Rivera is referring to Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who looked as if he suffered a concussion during Miami’s Week 3 victory over Buffalo but later was cleared to return to the game.

Four days later, with Miami playing on Thursday Night Football, Tagovailoa was the recipient of another brutal blow where his head slammed to the turf. The quarterback, whose fingers locked up following the play, was taken in an ambulance to the local hospital and currently remains in the concussion protocol.

As a result of Tagovailoa’s situation, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to a revised concussion protocol to better protect the players. The new protocols went into effect before this past Sunday’s games.

Still, the two questionable calls have caused a stir league-wide.

The first came in the Buccaneers-Falcons Sunday afternoon tilt; Atlanta pass rusher Grady Jarrett was flagged for “unnecessarily” throwing Tom Brady to the ground, referee Jerome Boger said postgame.

Then on Monday Night Football, Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones forced a strip sack on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in what seemed to be a perfectly legal play. Jones recovered the football, too, and began to celebrate the turnover before he saw yellow laundry on the field.

Here are both of those plays:

“How should I tackle people?” Jones told the media present postgame. “How should I not roll on him? I’m trying my best. I’m 325 pounds, OK? What do you want me to do? I’m going full speed trying to get the quarterback.”

Jones later went on to say that he feels roughing the passer penalties should be reviewable. “It’s getting absurd. Now it’s costing teams games,” he added.

Even with Tagovailoa’s situation, Rivera, like many others, believes the two roughing the passer calls this past weekend were a bit egregious. The head coach stressed finding the right balance between wanting to protect the quarterback but also allowing pass rushers to do their job, too.

“It’s something we’ve got to find the balance in between and be really careful with,” Rivera said. “I know, being on the [competition] committee, that will probably be a big discussion this offseason for us. It’s something for us to take a look at. But we have to be careful with it. That’s not a really good look. It really isn’t. But again, we do want to remember we want to protect the quarterbacks.”

Commanders left tackle Charles Leno agreed with his coach that the recent changes are an overreaction to Tagovailoa’s situation.

“This is how I look at it. I’m 300 pounds,” Leno said. ‘When I’m thinking about the D-tackles bracing themselves from falling on top of someone, I just think about the injury for those guys. Me falling down forward, vertically and having to put my arm out so I don’t fall on top of somebody, that can be a broken arm [or] wrist. I just think it’s a little bit of an overreaction for what happened. That’s just the league and how it works.”

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