Monday, January 22, 2018

Yes. Let Him Catch It

Following yet another comeback, leading to yet another AFC championship, against yet another team ready to hand the Patriots the victory, much of the discussion had focused on just how the Jaguars gave the game away.

The obvious stat to look at is the one-sided penalty totals. While the Patriots only committed one penalty on the day, the Jags had to deal with several crushing flags. A delay of game, a couple defensive pass interference, and a drive extending personal foul for a helmet to helmet hit.

That last one seems to draw the most discussion. Some people are saying it's just another example of people trying to take football out of football by removing the big hits. Some claim that it shouldn't have been a penalty because the defender tried to lead with his shoulder. Others, including Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, had a complaint along the lines of "what do you want them to do? Can't hit the knees. Can't hit the head. What's a defender supposed to do? Just let the guy catch the ball?'

Yes. That's exactly what he's supposed to do.

Well, I suppose that first he's supposed to be in the proper position so that he can knock the ball away without making contact with the receiver. (Like Stephon Gilmore did at the end of the game.) Or, in such great position that the quarterback doesn't dare throw it in the first place. But, yes. Other than those two options, if you can't stop him legally, you need to let the receiver catch the ball. Then just wrap him up with a good clean tackle. Malcolm Butler is pretty experienced with this. If you can't defend the pass, tackle the runner.

But, being unable to properly defend the pass isn't an excuse to commit a penalty. 

It reminds me of the baseball pitchers who think it's OK to put a substance on the ball if it's just to get a better grip. After all, without a better grip it's harder to control their curveball. If they can't control it, that's a safety issue for the hitter. So, they use a little pine tar. But, you know what else would make it safer for the hitters? Not throwing a curveball you can't control. Your inability to do something doesn't make it OK to cheat.

Just like your inability to cover Gronk doesn't make it OK to commit a penalty.

So don't tell me, "What can I do? I have to hit his knees or his head." That's garbage. Instead of flying out of control trying to jar the ball loose, pull up, and make a clean tackle. The fact that you suck isn't my problem.

Just because something is hard doesn't mean you don't have to do it. The rules are the rules. Does this make it easier to complete a pass? Yes. Sorry. Does this mean you have to learn how to wrap a guy up and actually tackle him, as opposed to trying to knock him over? Yes. Sorry. Does this mean someone like Gronk might require a double team? Yes. Sorry.

It doesn't mean you're allowed to commit a penalty.

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