Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron highlighted several plays today in his Week 2 officiating video, including the continuing clarification of the new “use of the helmet” rule (video below).
Use of the helmet rule
The league continues to clarify the new use of the helmet rule in the weekly officiating video, and it’s a rule we’ve covered at length. To briefly summarize, a penalty will be assessed if the player is found to have lowered his head and initiated contact with his helmet to any part of an opposing player. A player will not be penalized for lowering his head and initiating contact with his shoulder (unless the hit is to the head or neck area). Several examples in the video show clearly what is a legal and illegal hit. Incidental contact of the helmet by the initiating player is not considered a foul.
Unnecessary roughness on the quarterback
Defenders are allowed to contact the quarterback after he passes or hands off, especially after a zone read running play where there is a mesh point between the quarterback and running back. In the example cited, a Dolphins edge defender crashed the mesh point on a zone read between Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (no. 8) and running back Derrick Henry (no. 22). Mariota handed the ball off in the face of the crashing defender and was still contacted below the waist and taken to the ground. Defenders must recognize the quarterback no longer has the ball when they initiate contact, although there is the allowance for regular contact if the quarterback fakes having possession.
Defensive holding along the defensive line
Defensive lineman can be cited for holding if they grab and impede the movement offensive linemen trying to reach their blocking assignments. Defenders may not grab or pull down an offensive player in an attempt to impede or restrict their opponent’s movement.
Additionally, on the play cited, there was a question concerning whether or not there was an illegal chop block on the same defensive lineman who initiated the holding. Since the offensive lineman did not initiate contact with the defender, there can be no penalty for a chop block.
Offensive pass interference
Eligible pass catchers may not gain separation by pushing off an opposing defender and impeding their path to the ball. Any attempt to do so is a penalty for offensive pass interference whether or not the ball is thrown to that specific player. Once the ball is thrown, it becomes a penalty for offensive pass interference.
Kickoff set-up zone and 2-player wedge
On kickoffs, players who are not in the set-up zone cannot double team block an opposing player, nor may they two-man wedge block for a kick-returner. Players are considered to be in a two-man wedge the second they come together on the same yard line and move forward. The second they come together and move forward, it is a foul for a wedge. Wedges are illegal anywhere on the field by any player.
Defenders may not initiate contact on opposing players five yards past the line of scrimmage while the quarterback is still in the pocket with the ball in his hands. If they do, it’s an automatic foul for illegal contact.
A quarterback who breaks the pocket and and slides or dives to give himself up is down where his knee or other body part other than the hand or foot touches the ground, not where he ultimately ends up at the end of his slide.