“They’re just calling this new helmet rule a lot because it’s the preseason, it’ll probably be back to normal once the real season starts”
-People who see snow falling in New England and think “It’ll probably just be a couple inches, I don’t need to stock up on pizza and beer, it’ll be fine”
(For those of you who stock up on bread and milk and eggs before a snowstorm, we’ll trade off - French toast at your house for breakfast, then dinner at the pizza and beer lodge. People helping people!)
As the Jordan Richards era in New England enters its fourth season, the second-round pick from Stanford just might have made his greatest non-special-teams contribution to the game of football besides chipping in to bring a Super Bowl title to one of the other most obnoxious cities in the NFL.
And it’s because he made a tackle! On a big old tight end, at that!
Look, even if we can’t agree on deep dish or New York style, french toast or pancakes, or IPAs or stouts, my scientific assessment of everyone I’ve ever watched football with for more than 15 seconds is we all want the same thing - everybody loves the big hits, and nobody wants to see guys getting blasted in the head like the hit on Jerry Rice that made Rodney Harrison the NFL’s most hated player back in the day. Right? Right. That said, surely you all saw this excellent enforcer move from Cardinals safety Travell Dixon last week that wasn’t anywhere near a headshot and...well, let’s roll the video.
When the refs throwing flags make you do the shrug emoji in real life:
That brings us to Jordan Richards on Thursday night against Philly’s rookie tight end Dallas Goedert, and thanks to Richards taking a couple seconds to square up and take his shot, we can see him get set, lower his shoulder, go for the body shot, and, well....
Aaaaaaaand that’s a flag. It’s clearly intended to be a shoulder hit, only, you know, Richards’ Stanford-educated head is attached to his shoulders.
Fortunately, since I’m an ideas guy, I think I can help.
This’ll be a direct spinoff of my idea to fix touchdown reviews, which is this: if there’s any doubt on whether a player scored a touchdown or not, the play gets presented to a class of third-graders. If they say it’s a touchdown, it’s a touchdown. And then they get a pizza party for their hard work.
So instead of this janky-ass helmet rule, our new benchmark for helmet hits is the Vontaze Burfict rule. If it looks like Vontaze headhunting out there, flag it. If it looks like a good old-fashioned Bam-Bam Kam Chancellor shot, unless someone’s hurt, play on. Feel free to substitute James Harrison, Bernard Pollard, Rodney Harrison, or your cheapshot artist of choice.
See, we don’t even need elementary schoolers for that one!
All the heads-up tackling, all the instructional videos, and all the Dean Blandino sorry-not-sorry Monday morning “explanations” of penalties aren’t going to make one percent of difference if they’re going to insist on throwing flags over a player’s body moving in unison with...itself.
And speaking of which, what happens when the first player tries to twist his neck away from a hit to avoid a penalty, and then god knows what happens to their neck when a bang-bang play hits the wrong way in real time?
For what it’s worth, Bill Belichick all but says point-blank here that nobody really knows what we’re doing anymore:
“Do you feel like you have a good grasp on it?” Belichick was asked. “There seems to be some confusion league-wide about what is and isn’t going to be called.”
“We know what we know,” Belichick said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
“Do you know specifically the line play — how it’s going to be called in the trenches?”
“Yeah, we know what we know,” Belichick repeated. “We’ll see how it goes. I think you’d have to talk to Al [Riveron] and people in the officiating department about that.”
Ironically, that might end up being one of Bill’s more insightful answers.