You just knew controversy would surface with the NFL’s new helmet rule.
The Eagles’ Rodney McLeod, Nigel Bradham and Jeremy Reaves were all penalized in Thursday night’s preseason loss to the Patriots for lowering the head to initiate contact.
As expected, the interpretation needs clarifying. Something has to change and it needs to be corrected quickly.
All three players are confused and frustrated by the enforcement of the rule.
“It’s my understanding it’s more so for leading with the crown of your helmet,” McLeod said postgame. “I felt I went low and led with my shoulder. The ball carrier saw me coming and tried to get lower. I asked the ref why did he call it and he said any type of movement where you lower your head during this preseason, they’re going to call it.
“I think they have to do a lot of evaluating with the rule, look hard at the rule and understand what they’re doing. These can impact a game and make a big difference.”
McLeod was flagged on the Patriots’ first drive and 10 yards were added to the end of a 22-yard run by James White. Bradham’s penalty occurred late in the second quarter, adding 15 yards to an eight-yard pass play from Tom Brady to Julian Edelman.
Like McLeod, Bradham just wants clarity and for the rule to incorporate more common sense.
“I’m still confused on it, honestly,” Bradham said. “I feel almost every call against us was a mistake. You’re always taught to put your head across the bow. My thing is there’s no way you can play that fast, as fast as we play it, and expect us to change our point of attack in a fraction of a second.”
The way the current rule stands, this could cost some teams down the road at a crucial point of a game. More importantly, it could cost a team a playoff position.
“I’m hoping when the first regular-season game comes about that a routine tackle doesn’t get called,” McLeod said. “Game 1, I think I’m still going to be playing the same way. I’m not going to slow myself down.”