How is the NFL changing the roughing the passer rules for the 2022 season?
With 2021 bringing a barrage of roughing the passer penalties, the NFL has decided to take another look at how referees judge the call
The NFL is nothing if not pernicious in their rule tweaks. Every season there are a slew of new concepts and ideas brought to bear in the game, some with greater or lesser effects on the fabric of the sport.
For the 2022 season, however, the league has decided to redefine how the roughing the passer penalty is assessed.
Long-time fans of the game will be practically bald, having pulled all of their hair out in frustration as the quarterback has become more and more protected, even in plays where they are not legitimately at risk.
Last season saw an all-time high number of roughing the passer flags thrown as the officials saw 154 infractions take place. Now the league has decided to issue new guidelines which should reduce this number.
No longer will it be prohibited to land on the quarterback with their full body weight, a common-sense approach which will see that legitimate pass rushes who happen to end in a pile are no longer gifting yardage to the offense.
Incidental contact to the quarterback will be taken into account once again, having been done away with in the 2017 rule tweaks, meaning that a player whose raised arm is pushed into the quarterback, or who unintentionally hit a quarterback in the head and neck area while trying to block a pass will no longer be penalized.
A defender who has been pushed to the ground in trying to get to the quarterback was previously prohibited from making a play on his legs in an attempt to minimize Joe Burrow-style injuries. This season, that will once again be allowed.
It is never known until a season is in the rearview mirror whether or not a rule change fundamentally affects the game, but hopefully these tweaks will open defenses up a bit more and clear up some of the doubt surrounding when you can and can’t touch the passer.