Visceral blowback to the NFL’s updated rule that players can’t lead with their helmets to make contact is straight out of tough-guy football 101. Hard-hitting defensive backs say the league is destroying the physical element of the game or lament that it’s changing the sport entirely.
“Do they want us to play flag football?” Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard said. “It’s crazy.”
Beyond the criticism from old-school players bristling at another rule change or point of emphasis is legitimate confusion as to how the enhanced regulations will actually be enforced. No longer can a player initiate contact with his head anywhere on an opponent’s body Alex Burmistrov Jersey , penalized 15 yards or possibly by ejection in egregious cases, and players and coaches — offensive guys, too — are bracing for how it will be applied.
“You just hope it’s not called as frequently, because if they are going to call it on every single offensive and defensive lineman, the game is going to be played at a snail’s pace,” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It seems like they are neglecting the impact it is going to have on the game, and I don’t think they fully understand the scope and how huge it will be.”
Contact to a player’s head and neck has been a penalty for some time now, but this rule was ramped up to take it a step further. A ball carrier or an offensive lineman can’t lower his head into a defender, and a defensive player can’t make any part of his helmet the primary point of contact when attempting to tackle.
It’s similar to the NCAA rule that has been in place since 2013, though at the college level, “targeting” carries an automatic ejection, reviewable by replay. The league estimated that just two plays last season would’ve led to an ejection under the new rule that’s forcing players to adjust their approaches.
“It’s really hard to change the way you’ve been playing after 20 years,” Cowboys safety Jeff Heath said. “You’re not always thinking about where you’re hitting somebody. You’re just trying to get them down. As soon as you start thinking, and second-guessing yourself, I think that’s when trouble happens. Hopefully it does the job in keeping players safe but doesn’t result in a lot of ejections.”
As the NFL alters this rule and another to kickoffs in the name of safety, some players are willing to accept the reasons for changes. Denver’s three-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller said, “They’ve put in rules to take care of all the players, as well, so I’m good with all the rule changes.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said he used to fight the evolution of football “like an old dog Youth Jake McCabe Jersey ,” but has come to accept changes in the name of doing the right thing for players. He expects there to be a wide application of the enhanced helmet rule and doesn’t consider it such a bad thing.
“I think it’s across the board because it can happen multiple times on any play, where guys use the top of their helmet,” Carroll said. “We’re just getting out of it. It’s really about going back to really good shoulder-leverage play.”
That’s how Josh Norman feels about it. The Washington Redskins cornerback knows he has accidentally made helmet contact with opponents, but as a player not known for those plays considers this a reminder about sound fundamentals.
“Head up, bowed neck, tackle with your facemask,” Norman said. “It’s not with the crown of your head. Obviously injuries come. People get paralyzed like that. Nobody should play like that.”
To get the message across, coaches Anthony Lynn of the Chargers, Doug Marrone of the Jaguars, Dan Quinn of the Falcons, Mike Vrabel of the Titans and Todd Bowles of the Jets each narrated a clip-by-clip video illustrating how the enhanced rule affects a different position group: running backs , offensive linemen , defensive linemen , linebackers and defensive backs . Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin and linebackers Willie Lanier , also a Hall of Famer, and Willie McGinest taped minute-long videos explaining to players the importance of stance posture and technique to avoid unnecessary head contact.
In the first test of the heightened emphasis on head contact, Baltimore linebackers Patrick Onwuasor and Kamalei Correa were each flagged for 15-yard penalties in the Hall of Fame game that opened the preseason. Watching that gave Denver coach Vance Joseph a glimpse of what effect the helmet rule will have, pointing out it’s not just on players to adjust.
“Coaching that part, in my opinion Authentic Josh Manson Jersey , is going to be the tough part — not the defenders,” Joseph said. “That’s been taught and that’s been coached for a long time, with the offensive guys using their stiff arm and putting the ball in the proper hand, using their shoulders versus their head. It’s going to take teaching.”
It’s going to take some trial and error in games for players and officials to realize how it will actually be called. Veteran Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander figures it could happen somewhere on the field on any play, so he and his teammates will try to toe the line between watching out for it and not thinking so much that it proves costly.
“You can’t really change your mindset,” Buffalo safety Micah Hyde said. “That’s when you start playing passive, and you start giving up stuff. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to explain, it’s kind of when your ankle’s hurt, you tape it, you’re t Buried in the AL East cellar and well on their way to a second straight losing season, the Baltimore Orioles enter the so-called second half with this unavoidable realization: It’s time to break up the band.
The trade of shortstop Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night started the inevitable rebuilding process for a team that has bottomed out in 2018. After reaching the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016, the Orioles own the second-worst record (28-69) in the major leagues, have endured six losing streaks of at least a half-dozen games and have been shut out nine times.
Thus, Baltimore approaches the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in full selling mode. The exit of Machado could be followed by the departure of outfielder Adam Jones, lefty Zach Britton and right-hander Brad Brach, all of whom are in the final year of their contracts.
”Obviously, you never want to be in a position to sell Marcus Martin Jersey , but that’s just the nature of this business,” nine-year veteran Danny Valencia said. ”The front office is going to make moves that they feel (are) going to better this team in the future. Us as players, we have to accept this.”
It hurts even more because the Orioles left spring training fully expecting to be contenders.
”There’s no shortage of talent on this team,” right-hander Kevin Gausman said. ”That’s the most frustrating thing.”
The Orioles tried to keep a good thing going. It didn’t work. All they can do now is offer a hug and a wave to those headed elsewhere.
”If Adam Jones is gone, I’d be bummed. He’s one of my friends,” Valencia said before the All-Star break. ”Manny, too. It’s a good thing for those guys because they’re going to be going to teams trying to win a World Series, but you don’t want to see guys like that playing in a different uniform.”
Machado has never suited up for anyone but the Orioles, but he’ll be wearing Dodger blue on Friday night in Milwaukee. Britton has played only for Baltimore, and Jones began his career with Seattle but became a five-time All-Star with the Orioles.
And now, it appears as if it’s time for them to move on.
”It sucks, man,” Valencia said. ”When you’re winning, the team stays together. Losing, they break up the team. And I think the saddest part of this is, at the end of the year guys will be on different teams and the offseason will come, and they’ll look back and have regrets because they will realize this team was super talented and underachieved.”
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is carefully weighing all options. It took him a while to unload Machado, and he probably won’t make another deal until he’s absolutely sure he’s getting as much talent as possible,
”Until it happens Aleksander Barkov Jersey , it hasn’t happened,” Britton said. ”You don’t know the offers that they’re getting.”
Come August, and maybe sooner, it will be time for the Orioles to take a long look at their younger players and try to make the best of a horrific season. Manager Buck Showalter is currently protecting the team’s trade chips (he prevented Machado from playing on a wet field Sunday) while making plans for guiding a different sort of club.
”There’s things I’m trying to do with people who could potentially be moved, trying to do what’s best for the organization long term and short term,” Showalter said. ”I stop and think about those factors every decision I make.”
The influx of youth can be invigorating, but there’s a risk in rushing players to the big leagues too early. How this goes is anyone’s guess.
”I have no idea,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. ”The five years I’ve been here, we’ve been buyers at the deadline every single time. So, I’ve never experienced it before.
”There is a certain level of energy a young player brings, but they also bring inexperience,” Joseph noted. ”Patience is the key. But there are some interesting pieces in the minor leagues, and they may be getting a chance soon. It will indicate where we’re at as an organization.”
Over the final 10 weeks, the focus for the Orioles will be on finishing strong and seeing who’s worthy of being on the retooled 2019 roster.
”We’ve got to forget about what’s happened already,” second baseman Jonathan Schoop said, ”and look to the future.”
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