Tony Jefferson joined CBS Sports, The Jim Rome Show yesterday to talk about the NFL’s new tackling/helmet policy.
“During the off-season, the league made changes to the policy regarding the use of helmets in tackles,” Jim Rome begins. “Now players have to face a 15-yard penalty and possible ejection if he lowers his head and makes contact with his helmet against the opponent. You know that rule, what do you make of that change?”
“I’m not changing the way I’m playing or how I’ve been playing,” Tony Jefferson said. “I’m going to do what I have to do. I’m not going to be out there concerned about how to hit anybody. I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ve never had the intent to hurt anybody.”
The new helmet rule has received criticism since its release. Many pundits believe this is going to make the game more difficult to call, including former NFL guard and SB Nation contributor, Geoff Schwartz.
“Don’t do it, NFL,” Geoff writes. “Please. Don’t take one giant step forward with the new catch rule, only to take two steps backward with the new targeting rule.”
Schwartz goes on to explain how calling this is never going to be balanced, giving situational examples of him pulling as a guard and blocking a defender, but the player moves and it ends up as helmet-to-helmet contact. Does he get ejected? The defender? It’s not going to be called fair, let alone correctly.
With such a focus on defense, it’s worrisome to think about the referees tossing the flag and ejecting a Raven defender for a hit in which helmet-to-helmet contact occurs, but it’s clearly due to a player moving last moment where Jefferson or C.J. Mosley can’t correct their technique in a split-second. On the flip side, we’ll see multiple hits in which a defender lowers the crown of the helmet and yet receives no penalty when contacting Alex Collins or Michael Crabtree on the helmet.
Jefferson shouldn’t change the way he tackles because the NFL created a rule that only muddied the waters in understanding the high-speed, high-impact sport of football.