We had changes to concussion protocol, the first coaching dismissal and refereeing controversies.
Another week in the NFL, and no end to talking points.
With Week 5 in the books following the Kansas City Chiefs’ 17-point win over the Las Vegas Raiders, let’s take a look at the major talking points from the past seven days.
The biggest story of Week 5 comes after two controversial passer-roughing penalties were called in two days.
The setter roughing penalty is a rule that was implemented in an effort to protect quarterbacks from hits deemed “unwarranted by the circumstances of the game” by umpires – in other words, hits that go over broadly the line.
The rule has been updated in recent years to increase the protection offered to quarterbacks. However, recent events have heightened scrutiny of the sanction and its timing.
First, Grady Jarrett was credited with roughing up Tom Brady on Sunday on a key third down as the Atlanta Falcons tried to make a comeback when it looked like Jarrett had just tackled Brady. The resulting penalty helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers retain possession and finish the game with a win.
And on Monday, the Chiefs’ Chris Jones was called for the same penalty after landing on Raiders QB Derek Carr, despite stripping the ball and also appearing to be setting up his downfall.
Both sanction decisions have been lambasted by players, commentators and fans ever since and have led to mounting calls for a review system to be put in place for these situations.
It’s unclear if any systemic changes will occur as a result of these two incidents, but such controversial penalty appeals have led to rule changes or changes in the past – just look at the change in review of the rules. pass interference that occurred after the end of the 2019 NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams (although it didn’t last very long).
In light of recent events involving Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) announced on Sunday that they are implementing new concussion protocols to further protect players.
And it just so happens that the first player to be kicked out of a match under these new rules was Tagovailoa’s replacement, Teddy Bridgewater.
The 29-year-old was hit in the head on his first snap of the game. Although Bridgewater passed his evaluation and had no symptoms, an observer saw him stumble, according to Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.
Stumbling is considered a sign of ataxia because it demonstrates impaired motor function. The league defines ataxia as “an abnormality in balance/stability, motor coordination, or dysfunctional speech caused by a neurological problem.”
Under the new rule, a player showing signs of ataxia while being assessed for a concussion would be banned from returning to play.
Other players were banned from games in Week 5 due to the new protocols – Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth and New Orleans Saints wide receiver Chris Olave – as the league and association players are trying to better protect the players.
When you tune in to an NFL game, you want to see high-flying athletic feats, big plays and plenty of points – see Sunday’s high-flying 38-3 demolition the Buffalo Bills inflicted on the Steelers of Pittsburgh.
However, this season offenses in general are having a harder time scoring a lot of points than they have in recent years.
Outside of the behemoth teams — the Bills and Chiefs, for example — converting long drives into touchdowns has become more difficult and that great playing ability seems to have dried up for some.
Last week we saw a tedious 12-9 Indianapolis Colts victory over the Denver Broncos (which saw the Denver faithful leave the stadium in a mass exodus before overtime), we saw the defending champion of the Los Angeles Rams score 10 points at home and we saw the Detroit Lions shut out 29-0 by the New England Patriots.
Now, this could all be a blip. It could just be that the players are still warming up without having played in pre-season. It may also be that defenses have become familiar with plays and schemes that have worked before.
But that seems like a surprising trend given the way the league seemed to be going, with more offensive coaches being hired and plans being revolutionized to maximize those high-powered offenses.
On Monday, Matt Rhule became the first NFL coach of the 2022 season to be fired after being let go by the Carolina Panthers.
Rhule had a miserable time in Carolina, going 11-27 in over two years. His dismissal came a day after a 22-point home loss to the San Francisco 49ers left the team 1-4 this season.
Rhule joined the Panthers on a seven-year, $62 million deal in 2020 after coaching college football with Baylor and Temple. According to NFL.com, he is the first Panthers coach to serve less than three full seasons.
But he has struggled to find a quarterback since his arrival. He tried Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton and PJ Walker before trading for Baker Mayfield this offseason. Neither option has provided a long-term solution to the sport’s most important position, as Mayfield endures a difficult start to the year.
Although Rhule has been replaced on an interim basis by defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach Steve Wilks, the Panthers’ next hire will be a big one, with the roster interspersed with talented players, like running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver DJ Moore and defensive end Brian Burns.
It’s unclear whether the Panthers will choose to restart their roster with a new coaching staff — usually trading top players in exchange for draft assets — or are hoping a personnel change will change the momentum of the organization. .
But for Carolina fans, it’s been yet another frustrating season after making the playoffs in 2017.