The start of this NFL season has been marked, over and over again, the softest possible roughing the passer penalties. Defenders are not allowed to land on top of quarterbacks, which means that they must somehow levitate or something after completing a sack. The rule was tweaked to emphasize protecting quarterbacks and juicing offensive numbers, and it’s already fucked over Myles Garrett, Michael Bennett, Clay Matthews, and Williams Hayes, among others.
When T.J. Watt picked up a personal foul last Sunday against the Falcons, it was not because he landed on Matt Ryan, but rather because he came too close to Ryan’s leg. Watt and the Steelers have the Tom Brady rule to thank for this one, though it definitely seems like Watt more stumbled than dove towards Ryan’s knee, and even then, he barely touched it.
Not content to merely flag Watt, the NFL fined him $20,054 for “forcibly hitting in the knee area or below.” He might not have gotten fined if Mike Tomlin hadn’t criticized officials after the game. Watt’s big brother wasn’t happy:
I guess every defensive lineman will have to take the Aaron Donald approach to be safe.