One of the latest NFL rule changes has been on display throughout the preseason. It is drawing less than stellar reviews.
The new rule prohibits a player from lowering his helmet to make a tackle. Now, on paper this guideline was conceivably instituted to prevent helmet-to-helmet hits and make the game safer.
That makes total sense and means the rule is good, right? Well, not exactly.
We’ve already seen hits that had been perfectly legal and are clean as a whistle be flagged for 15-yard penalties. Take this brutal call in last night’s Los Angeles Chargers-Arizona Cardinals exhibition game.
Arizona safety Travell Dixon was called for a penalty here.
Textbook “profile” tackle in space – now called a penalty in the NFL pic.twitter.com/i3JTzeienj
— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) August 12, 2018
And here’s the hit from another angle.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) August 12, 2018
What exactly is Dixon supposed to do in this situation? If he dives low, there’s a risk he breaks the receiver’s leg or blows out his ACL.
If he goes in high but lowers his head too much, he could break his neck. If he is so concerned about drawing a penalty that he hesitates, he could whiff on the tackle and a big play or touchdown might be the result.
Good luck, defensive players. You have to hope the NFL is more stringently enforcing this law during the preseason than it will when the games start to count.