Secondary Football Stuff Today …

The American Football Coaches Association has petitioned the NCAA rules committee to consider a rule change.  I like the idea because I believe that it closes a loophole in the existing rules that is not exploited all the time, but it is exploited.  Here is the deal:

  • Whenever an official sees that a player is injured – especially if he is on the ground and cannot get up – the official will stop the clock to allow the player and/or training staff to get him off the field.
  • While that is not a “charged timeout”, it has the same effect as a timeout.  It stops the clock and it changes the tempo of the game; so, it has a similar effect to a “charged timeout”.
  • The injured player must remain out of the game for one play because of his needing attention for the injury.

I have long been amazed how frequently injuries take place late in games when the team that is behind needs to preserve time on the clock and how rarely those injuries seem to happen to the team in the lead.  I believe the reason for such a disparity in the injury rate is that the penalty for a team to have a player “take a dive” – so to speak – is minimal; he can come out for a play and then run back on the field and resume his position.  It is also curious how often injuries happen to defensive units once an offense decides to raise the tempo of the game.

Evidently, the members of the American Football Coaches Association have seen something similar and think the rules mavens should put a stop to it.  Here is their proposal:

  • An injured player for whom the clock is stopped so that he can receive assistance on the field should not be eligible to return to the field until there is a change of possession in the game.

I like that rule; I think it will go a long way to preventing injuries that are about as real as the ones suffered by pro ‘rasslers when the bad guy sneaks in a punch to the face of the good guy without the referee noticing it.  So, who makes up the NCAA Rules Committee for football?

  • There are 13 members.  Some are coaches; some are school  administrators; some are conference officials; some represent officiating interests.
  • There are quotas for the sort of expertise brought to the committee as well as quotas for representation for Division I, Division 1a, Division II and Division III.
  • For the current composition, the most recognizable name is the Chairman, David Shaw, who is the head coach at Stanford.

A year ago, the Football Rules Committee said that “flopping” was a problem and said that it would be a “point of emphasis” for officials in the 2020 season.  Frankly, officials had enough “new stuff” on their plates in 2020 given COVID-19 protocols and scheduling uncertainties to bring that issue to the top of anyone’s list of things to do.  Here is what David Shaw said back before any of the COVID shutdowns took place last Spring:

“There are a lot of teams in pretty much every conference now that are going up-tempo.  [Feigning injuries] is viewed as a way to stop it. For us as coaches, it’s a tactic that lacks integrity. We as coaches should not be having our guys do things that [lack] integrity.”

Coach Shaw also noted at the time that it was not practical to ask the officials to change their behavior when they see a player down on the field.  The officials bring a knowledge of the rules and a knowledge of officiating mechanics to the field; they are not trainers or doctors; it would be foolish to have them enforce any rule that required even a modicum of “medical judgment”.  Shaw said this was a problem that needed to be handled by coaches themselves.

There is a potential downside to this proposed rule.  I acknowledge its existence and still favor implementation of the rule.  Here is the downside:

  • A player who is genuinely injured may want to try to “tough it out” through a real injury simply not to be sidelined for a lengthy period – – or perhaps for the rest of a game.  In such a case, the player may take his injury to a more severe level because he felt the penalty associated with the rule is too severe.

I think the NCAA Football Rules Committee will have an interesting discussion on its agenda this year.  It had considered this sort of thing in the past and now the Coaches Association is recommending its adoption.

Moving on …  I want to talk for a moment about the Eagles’ trade of Carson Wentz.  A few weeks ago when the Rams traded Jared Goff, there were reports that the Rams would take a $22M “dead cap hit” in 2021 and that was the largest “dead cap hit” in the history of the NFL.  [Aside:  “Dead cap hit” means that amount of money counts against a team’s cap for a given season but that player will not be on the team.  In Goff’s case, he would be playing for another team – the Lions.]

I mention that because I have read reports that the Eagles will suffer a “dead cap hit” for Carson Wentz that is much larger.  One report has it at $34M; another calculation had it at $32M.  The NFL salary cap for 2021 is expected to be somewhere between $180M and $190M; if the cap hit for Carson Wentz is “only” $32M, that means he will consume about 18% of the Eagles’ salary cap while playing for the Colts.  And that leads me to conclude:

There is more to the impetus for this trade than simply the terrible year Carson Wentz put on tape from 2020.  If this were only a physical/mechanical/psychological issue, I would think the team would try to work that out over the course of one more season.  Something else was afoot inside the Eagles’ braintrust as they evaluated their future with Carson Wentz.

I will not pretend to know what the issues with “management” or “the locker room” might have been, but it just feels to me that there had to have been significant problems somewhere in the mix.  The Eagles now need to make a quick assessment:

  • Is Jalen Hurts “the guy”?.  He looked good in one game against the Saints and looked very ordinary in his other appearances.
  • After the performance in the final quarter of the final game, I think the Eagles recognize that Nate Sudfeld is not “the guy” and may not even rise to the level of “just a guy”.
  • I think the Eagles are in the QB market either for a free agent or for a QB in the draft.

Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times recently:

“Lions RB Adrian Peterson has been ordered to pay $8.3 million to DeAngelo Vehicle Sales, LLC after defaulting on a $5.2 million loan in 2017.

“Now that’s what you call getting thrown for a loss.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………