One of my biggest qualms with the NFL is the fact that the refs are too trigger-happy when calling for unnecessary roughness, and fans of the New England Patriots witnessed this sort of call yesterday. Patrick Chung lower his shoulder and hit Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts in the helmet in order to jar the ball loose from what would have been a completion up the middle. There was nothing else Chung could have done save for allowing Shorts to come up with a solid completion.
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And therein lies my biggest problem with this penalty. Not only could Chung have not done anything different, but penalties should never impede a player from doing their job on the field. The meaning of “unnecessary roughness” is to stop a player from committing a play that is unnecessarily rough. Apparently, the five refs who threw their flags don’t know the meaning of the penalty. Flags in the NFL shouldn’t be called based on how hard the hit was, because that’s part of the game. Chung is an enforcing safety whose job is to hit receivers and make them feel less comfortable about making their game in the middle of the field.
Bill Belichick said, “I don’t know. They’re going to have to take a closer look at them,” Belichick said when asked about the play. “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know what he could have done. I don’t know.”
Just because I disagree with the premise of the penalty doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad for Cecil Shorts, because he suffered a concussion recently and that head injury caused him to leave the field as well. I hope he’s fine, because Shorts is a good guy and one heckuva a receiver. Patriots fans saw his ability to stretch the field first-hand on Sunday.
Vince Wilfork was a leader yesterday after hitting an offensive lineman who put in a big-time cheap shot on fellow teammate and DL Trevor Scott. Wilfork did what he needed to do, and it was totally worth the penalty. I’m glad he stuck up for Scott in that manner, because that Jaguars OL was way out of line.
Wilfork said, “That was just one of those things where you have to make a choice in a split second, and sometimes it’ll cost you, sometimes it won’t. And this time it cost us a penalty, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be getting a letter [from the commissioner]… I hate anybody injured, that’s the last thing I like, but sometimes it happens. … You have to be able to move forward from it. You definitely do. And he did, he moved forward and he made probably the best play of the game to seal it for us.”
It’s hard to be a safety in this league when you can’t do your job, because the NFL is basically sending the message that Chung has to just sit there and let Shorts make the catch instead of hitting him to force the incompletion. I’m sure Jaguars fans would have felt the same way had that happened to Dawan Landry, and I would too. Again, hits shouldn’t be penalized based on how hard they were, because I didn’t see anything illegal about that play.
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