PHOENIX NFL owners are set to vote Wednesday on a rule change that would penalize running backs for lowering their heads and striking tacklers with the crown of their helmets.
Its another push by the league to cut down on head and neck injuries. But coaches arent sure how officials would decide what constitutes a penalty if the proposal passes.
I think its obvious that we all want those types of plays out of the game. For me, its about how do we officiate it, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday at the league meetings. Really, thats probably the same for a lot of the rules. In spirit, they are obviously great rules that are intended for the good of the game, but officiating it is another thing.
The measure could be tabled until the May meetings in Boston if owners decide that it needs to be researched more fully.
The league has cracked down on helmet-to-helmet hits by defenders against defenseless receivers, with penalties, fines and the threat of suspensions. But this is the first measure to protect defensive players.
And while coaches believe it is well-intentioned, they question the practicality of it.
Sometimes when you lower your shoulders, you lower your head, Broncos coach John Fox said. Will there be a call that I just hate during games, and these other 30-some guys? Probably.
Stopping the zone read: Tomlin and at least one other defensive-minded head coach talked about defending the read option packages the Panthers helped popularize.
Oakland coach Dennis Allen, the Broncos former defensive coordinator, said 3-4 schemes could match up better against the option runs.
One of the reasons people would consider doing that is getting another linebacker on the field, which puts a little more speed on the field to deal with some of these athletic quarterbacks, said Allen, whose team runs a 4-3.
Tomlin and Allen said having an offseason to study the zone read will help defenses.
We always believe that were on the cutting edge defensively and look forward to pitting our skills against others, physically and schematically. I embrace that, Tomlin said.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less