With 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of a defensive-led NFL preseason game, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Antwione Williams took off on a blitz on the outside looking to make a big play, and perhaps even earn a spot on the roster in 2018.
What came next is exactly what the Vikings wanted — Williams blasted around the edge, drilled Jacksonville Jaguars backup quarterback Cody Kessler for a sack, and he got to celebrate.
Then a flag came.
For the celebration? Nope. For the sack.
Wait, what? Why? This is not a joke nor a drill.
What looked like a pretty normal football play when a defender gets a free shot at a quarterback became the first flag of the new “Aaron Rodgers Rule,” which earns a 15-yard penalty for a defender using his weight a drive a quarterback into the ground.
Here is the fancy new rule (Section 2, Article 9b) which came after Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr injured the Green Bay Packers superstar signal caller during a play in 2017:
A rushing defender is prohibited from committing such intimidating and punishing acts as “stuffing” a passer into the ground or unnecessarily wrestling or driving him down after the passer has thrown the ball, even if the rusher makes his initial contact with the passer within the one-step limitation provided for in (a) above. When tackling a passer who is in a defenseless posture (e.g., during or just after throwing a pass), a defensive player must not unnecessarily or violently throw him down or land on top of him with all or most of the defender’s weight. Instead, the defensive player must strive to wrap up the passer with the defensive player’s arms and not land on the passer with all or most of his body weight.
It’s only fitting Minnesota got the first-ever flag for the new rule. Of course people on social media, including New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan.
Add this to the new Use of Helmet rule this season, which put a hold to rookie linebacker Roquan Smith’s contract and training camp, and the NFL referees are going to be some of the most disliked guys in the entire league.
This sack was normal, with great intentions to play football, and if this is a penalty, the NFL needs to re-think the rule changes, specifically the roughing the passer call, before it gets out of hand and ruins some games.
Oh, and the Jaguars beat the Vikings 14-10 during Saturday’s game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, in case you didn’t keep up with the preseason action over the weekend.