Football Zebras
Officiating Dept. VideoOfficiating video: legal and illegal quarterback hits and the catch process

Officiating video: legal and illegal quarterback hits and the catch process

Senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron released the week 8 officiating video today (video below).

Briefly, the video explains and shows what is considered legal contact on the quarterback. In the example shown, the defender wraps up the quarterback and takes him to the ground but all or most of his body weight is to the side as he tackles the quarterback. 

Legal contact on a receiver was also shown and as the receiver catches the ball, the defender lowers his shoulder, helmet to the side, and wraps up the receiver and takes him to the ground. Both of the examples of legal contact are points of emphasis and a new rule this year: legal and illegal quarterback hits and the new use of the helmet rule.

Under the new use of the helmet rule, in the Browns game a defender was flagged for a hit to the head on quarterback Baker Mayfield as he slid near midfield. The play was initially flagged and then incorrectly picked up but could’ve been flagged for two separate incidents, one for lowering the head and initiating contact with the helmet or two, hitting a sliding quarterback with forcible contact to the head or neck area. It is inexcusable that the flag was picked up in this situation. As this hit occurred on a sliding quarterback, this becomes the main responsibility of the referee, who in this game, was Shawn Hochuli. On a potential player safety violation, refs should generally err on the side of caution and throw the flag.

In a play that wasn’t flagged for use of the helmet, the defender lowered his head and initiated contact with his helmet. It’s important to note that the contact on the ball carrier (or a defender by a ball carrier) doesn’t have to be to the head, but can flagged for a hit anywhere on the opponent.

The hit even dislodged the defender’s helmet (gif above) but is not shown in the officiating video. 

Also covered in the video, a player forced out of bounds on a kick off or punt who does not make an attempt to immediately enter the field of play after stepping out of bounds is guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Under the new catch process revision this season, Falcons’ receiver Julio Jones made a catch and the defender caused a fumble. The play was whistled dead as an incomplete pass and under review, officiating central determined the process of the catch was complete after Jones established control and got two feet down plus the third step. Therefore, the catch process was complete at that moment.

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