NFL Tries to Clarify Roughing the Passer Rule, Won't Make Changes

Despite backlash, the NFL Competition Committee won't change the roughing the passer rule. 
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NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent tried Thursday to clarify the league's roughing the passer rule, which has received backlash from players, coaches and fans over the last three weeks.

The NFL Competition Committee met Wednesday night via conference call to clarify "techniques that constitute a foul" and "ensure consistency in officiating the rule," according to a statement. Vincent said no changes will be made to the league's emphasis on "body weight" penalties.

The committee used footage of roughing the passer calls from 2017 and the first three weeks of play in 2018 to issue the clarification. A video with four examples of permissible and impermissible hits on the quarterback was also released. 

The rule, listed as Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9(b) in the NFL rulebook, prohibits a defender from landing on top of the quarterback with most or all of his body weight. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reported that some members of the competition committee believe officials aren't applying the rule correctly. 

Can the NFL Back Its Way Out of Controversial Roughing Calls?

The committee voted to emphasize the body weight rule, which has been in place since 1995, in the offseason. The change in emphasis has led to a number of controversial incidents, most notably involving Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who was flagged for roughing the passer in each of Green Bay's first three games. 

Last year, the league saw just 16 roughing the passer penalties through Week 3. There have been 34 such calls so far this season.