First it was Tony Corrente throwing the flag on Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for roughing the passer. Then Corrente doubled down in a conference call with media after the game, saying he applied the rulebook correctly.
Now, the NFL as a whole is tripling down on Corrente’s call on Matthews. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league is actually going to include a clip of Matthews’ hit on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in a training video for teams regarding penalty calls. Specifically, they are using that clip as an example of an illegal hit under the rule book, referring to Matthews’ tackle of Cousins as a “scoop-and-pull” technique that it deems to be worthy of a roughing the passer penalty.
The same will go for a penalty flag called on the Vikings’ Eric Kendricks for a hit on Aaron Rodgers, which used a similar technique and has also been rightfully receiving criticism around the league after the game for drawing a flag from Corrente.
Take a listen to Pelissero himself, who discussed this decision by the league Monday afternoon on NFL Network:
Clay Matthews called his critical roughing the passer penalty “a terrible call”, but I’m told the NFL is actually going to include that play — and #Vikings LB Eric Kendricks’ similar penalty — on a teaching tape that reiterates the “scoop-and-pull” technique is a foul. pic.twitter.com/psqwjN6N9q— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 17, 2018
That’s right. Matthews’ hit is apparently the textbook example of a roughing the passer call. Somehow, Matthews is deemed to have picked Cousins up and driven him into the ground, despite Cousins leaving his feet for a split-second on the follow-through of a 50-yard throw and Matthews wrapping his arms around Cousins’ waist at the point that the ball left Cousins’ hand.
For any NFL fans who thought that the catch rule would be the most controversial change in the league this season, we’re sorry to say that you were wrong.
Perhaps the best part of the video is Pelissero’s face at the end of the clip, which pretty much says it all for anyone outside the league’s officiating office who heard this explanation:
(H/t to APC’s Matub for the screenshot.)
UPDATE: Former heads of NFL officiating Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino, who both now work for the FOX TV network, asserted on Monday that hits like these should not be penalized as they are not overly dangerous. Take a look at their comments here:
Former @NFL officiating chiefs @MikePereira and @DeanBlandino issued strong rebuttals today to the league’s emphasis on roughing the QB, especially the two calls in MIN-GB. Relevant transcript: pic.twitter.com/mtnpcepi0Y— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) September 17, 2018