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Panthers Suggest a Rule Change that Could Affect Tom Brady and the Patriots

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We've all seen New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throw a football at the ground intentionally without being penalized. All quarterbacks in the NFL do it. If the play breaks down, the quarterback can just throw the ball at the feet of his checkdown target and move on to the next play without repercussion.

The Carolina Panthers want this to change and have proposed a rule change that will change the definition of intentional grounding.

The NFL defines a "realistic chance of completion" as "a pass that lands in the direction and the vicinity of an originally eligible receiver." Carolina wants to strike this language from the rulebook.

New England operates with one key vision on offense: don't turn the ball over. Brady will chuck the ball at the ground if the play isn't developing in order to avoid a negative play- but there's no question that Brady was intentionally throwing the ball at the ground in the above GIF.

Surprisingly, the Panthers don't want to change the ruling on the above type play. Carolina's proposal left in the current language exception "If a player intentionally throws a ball to the ground, it is intentional grounding, unless the receiver is surrounded by defenders on an attempted screen pass."

Brady's grounding certainly qualifies for this exemption.

It's more likely that Carolina is looking to change plays where a quarterback blindly throws the ball away while they're in the grasp to avoid the sack:

This is the type of play that the Panthers want to avoid (although I'll note Brady was out of the pocket). As quarterbacks release the ball at faster and faster rates, it has become increasingly difficult for defensive players to affect the play.

Brady is throwing the football with his left hand in an attempt to get rid of the ball and not record the sack. There's zero chance of a completion on this play. The Panthers just want to try and balance the odds and help the defense out.

The Patriots will continue to play risk-averse offense if the rule changes, but intentionally throwing the ball away is a key component of the team's ball security. Changing how Brady can get rid of the ball within the rules could impact the tempo of the offense.

Of course, a rule change would require putting more responsibility on the officials to determine the judgment of a quarterback's passing attempt, which is likely the opposite direction of where the league wants to move with referee roles.