NFL to showcase controversial Clay Matthews hit

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Published 9:07 PM EDT Sep 17, 2018

NFL to showcase controversial Clay Matthews hit

GREEN BAY –— A little after 1 p.m. Monday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the hit Clay Matthews put on Kirk Cousins on Sunday was what the linebacker has been taught to do under the umbrella of the new roughing rules set by the NFL in 2018.

A little under three hours later, the NFL decided that it was going to send out Matthews’ hit as an example of what not to do.

“The goal is for player safety. I think that’s number one,” McCarthy said early Monday afternoon. “Number two, it’s to protect the quarterback. But also I think you have to go further. I think anytime you have a desired result, there’s a formula to get that result. You’ve got to make sure you’re looking at all the variables. I’m not sure that all the variables are clear right now.” 

To help clear those variables up, the NFL Network reported that the league will send Matthews’ hit on Cousins — which referee Tony Corrente ruled consisted of Matthews lifting and driving the quarterback into the ground — to each team in the league in a training video.

RELATED: Matthews left frustrated, bewildered by roughing penalty

Rule 12, Section 2, Article 9 of the NFL rule book states that the “technique of grabbing the passer from behind the leg(s), scooping and pulling in an upward motion is considered a foul.”

Corrente determined that Matthews did that, resulting in a roughing penalty that negated an interception and gave the ball back to the Vikings. Cousins eventually directed a scoring drive that sent the game to overtime.

Matthews was asked to comment about the play again on Monday, and he respectfully declined.

After the game, the linebacker said “I don’t even know where to start, to be completely honest with you. I have so many emotions running through as far as what a terrible call it was. At the same time, I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know. You let me know. You tell me. Did I put pressure on him? I thought I hit him within his waist to chest, I got my head across, put my hands down. To call it at that point in the game is unbelievable. Last week, OK, shame on me. This week, that’s unbelievable. The worst part is, we’ll probably send it in and you know what they’re going to say? They’ll find fault on me because they’re going to agree with the refs. I don’t know. It’s a difficult call to call.”

The roughing penalty called on Minnesota linebacker Eric Kendricks for hitting Aaron Rodgers will also be included in the film distributed to teams.

“You look at both of the penalties that were called in the game, the quarterbacks, they’re trying to throw the ball,” McCarthy said. “That’s got to be — if you’re trying to throw the ball and you’re totally exposed, I think that maybe you have to potentially factor into the action. I think that’s where a little bit of the gray area is in the judgment of the defender hitting the quarterbacks, they’re trying to throw the ball. That’s got to be, if you’re trying to throw the ball and you’re totally exposed I think that may have to potentially factor in the action.

“So I think that’s where a little bit of the gray area is in the judgment of defender hitting the quarterback because I get what the goal is, and we’re all for the goal being achieved. But in the same breath we’ve got to make sure it’s not a competitive disadvantage to the pass rusher trying to hit the quarterback. Things like that, those are the quality conversations I think you can have with the officials because really we had the one on the 2-minute drill there at half, it’s pretty much the same situation that was called on Aaron — very similar. So, that’s that. It’s as far as I’m going to go.”

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