If I Were Commissioner: Penalties (1 of 2)

The whole idea of this segment is to assume that I have complete authority over anything in the NFL, and what I would do to make the game even better than it already is. In this next segment of "if I were commissioner", I am going to take on a few penalties that get called on a very regular basis in the NFL.

These particular infractions are necessary to be enforced, but the severity of the penalty is where I have the issue.

The first penalty I have an issue with is roughing the passer. I completely understand that we need to protect our most marketable, most valuable position on the field, the quarterback. Roughing the passer penalties are defined by any late hits to the quarterback, any helmet-to-helmet hits on the quarterback, picking the quarterback up and driving him into the ground, hitting a quarterback in the helmet, and hitting a quarterback below the waist.

At this point, it's somewhat difficult to sack a quarterback based only on the current roughing the passer rules. Like I said before, I understand that we must protect our quarterbacks, so I propose an amendment to the current penalties. If I were commissioner, there would be two roughing the passer penalties, similar to the current facemask penalties. An incidental "roughing", such as a touch on the helmet would be a five-yard penalty, and it would be the referees discretion to separate the incidental variety and the full-blown personal foul variety. Anything that wouldn't be considered incidental by the referees judgment would continue to be a 15-yard penalty, and an automatic first down.

I believe that this separation of the penalties would restore some of the aggression that seems to be lost over the last couple of years in the NFL. I point to directly to a game last season involving the Giants and Titans. Giants defensive end Matthias Kiwanuka rushed Tennessee quarterback Vince Young on a fourth down play in the fourth quarter and had his arms around him. Kiwanuka was afraid of being called for a 15-yard penalty so he let go of Young because he thought Young had already thrown the football. Young then scrambled around and picked up a first down. The Titans would eventually score and eventually win the football game. If Kiwanuka would've finished the play, the Giants would have likely won the game. I don't want possible outcomes of games to change due to defensive players fearing ridiculous 15 yard penalties.


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