The NFL has taken a step to bring clarity to the contentious penalty of “Roughing the Passer” through a detailed video released on the NFL Football Operations X account. This penalty has been a subject of debate and criticism for over a decade, with inconsistent calls drawing widespread scrutiny.
In their video, the NFL emphasizes the vulnerability of quarterbacks during passing plays, leading to specific rules against roughing the passer. The Referee holds the primary responsibility for enforcing these rules, penalizing any physical acts deemed unwarranted against a player in a passing posture, whether before, during, or after a pass.
From the @NFL Video Rulebook ⬇️
ROUGHING THE PASSER
Because the act of passing often puts the quarterback (or any other player attempting a pass) in a position where he is particularly vulnerable to injury, special rules against roughing the passer apply. The Referee has… pic.twitter.com/OtAL4WpfTU
— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) November 9, 2023
However, the challenge lies in the inconsistency of officiating when it comes to “Roughing the Passer.” Despite the league’s efforts to provide guidelines, there are instances where officials fail to flag dangerous hits to the head, while routine sack plays sometimes draw penalties.
We just had a roughing the passer on a sack play. Whatever.pic.twitter.com/HWD62PXHWm
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 5, 2023
This inconsistency in enforcing judgment calls like “Roughing the Passer” raises concerns about its impact on game outcomes. To address these issues, the NFL may need to consider solutions such as hiring full-time officials or implementing a sky judge to assist on-field officials and rectify mistakes. Until then, the debate around the effectiveness of officiating in the league is likely to persist.