New Rule Irks Merriman


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Jan 22, 2006
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New rule shielding QBs irks Merriman

By Jay Posner

August 4, 2006

Shawne Merriman wasn't happy.
“It's horrible,” the Chargers linebacker said yesterday. “How close can we get to flag football? Next we're going to be playing two-hand touch. I can't even believe the rules are like this.

“Yeah, you want to protect as many players as possible, but it's still football. What would Jack Lambert, what would Dick Butkus say to something like this? It's just horrible.”

Merriman's displeasure came the day after Chargers players met with NFL officials and were shown a video informing them of rules changes for the 2006 season. The rule that angered Merriman is designed to – what else? – protect quarterbacks, in this case from being hit at or below the knee while in the pocket. (Defenders blocked or pushed into the quarterback would be exempt.)

“While he's in the pocket I can't hit him below the waist,” Merriman said. “The rule states below the knees, but they say if it's borderline below the waist, they're still going to call it.”

Merriman said the way he understood the rule, his sack last year of Peyton Manning, the one in which he swiped at the quarterback's lower leg as he ran past, would have resulted in a penalty.

“They're trying to make it like flag football and it's horrible,” he said.

Actually, according to referee Mike Carey, it might not be as bad as Merriman fears. Carey said he wasn't familiar with the Merriman-Manning play, but he explained the intent of the rule is to prevent “forcible blows at the knee or lower. . . . If you are low you can swipe (at the quarterback), as long as you don't drive that shoulder in.”

Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said he thinks the new rule will be “very difficult to make a judgment on” because defenders so often are blocked or pushed to the ground. But Carey said normally he has to make only one such call every other game, adding that defensive players are “pretty good about staying up high.”

Either way, Merriman will be prepared.

“Honestly, I have some petty cash I'll put to the side for fines this year because I will get some,” he said. “I have to play the only way I know how to play.”

When the rule was passed, the NFL said Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo would not have been penalized last year for hitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the knee because he had been blocked in such a way that he couldn't avoid that area.

But Castillo also is wary. “They said if you're getting pulled down they won't call it,” he said, “but there are still times where you'll lose your balance or you'll trip on something. All of a sudden you're falling and the quarterback's right there, you're not going to back off. That's one, you might just have to take the fine, to be honest. Because I don't see any guy on this team backing off.”

Among the other rules changes, the one that received the most publicity was the attempt to limit end-zone celebrations that involve more than one player or a prop (such as a Sharpie or a pylon). But more likely to impact the game are two changes in instant replay. One is a decision to limit the referee's review from 90 seconds to one minute.

“That's going to be a tough one,” Carey said. “Sometimes we don't get a shot (on TV) until 60, 70 seconds. That's going to be very interesting. . . . We're going to make more mistakes.”

Also concerning replay, down-by-contact calls will be subject to review for the first time. If the referee can determine the ball was fumbled before the ball carrier was down and the defense recovered it, then the defense will be awarded the ball at the spot of the recovery.

On special teams, the kicking team will have a tougher time recovering onside kicks because it will have to keep at least four players on each side of the ball. Previously teams would load one side with eight or nine players. Also, a defensive player will be prohibited from lining up directly opposite the center on a field goal or point-after try.

One of the league's points of emphasis this season will be on offensive holding penalties. But Carey said he expects fewer holding calls. “They're trying to lower the foul count by not calling those things that don't have significance at the point of attack,” he said.
Sweet. More 15 yard penalties to keep drives alive. The NFL will achieve its dream of becoming the Arena League played on a 100 yard field yet. :rolleyes:
Yeah another way to slow down the game. Not a fan of this bullshit. Like Karas said the next thing is they'll dress the QB's in a dress.
The thing I like :rolleyes: about the new rules is they're entirely subjective. Adding more rules that allow the refs to favor one team over another and manufacture tension is not something I like seeing.

If the rule was truly to protect the QB, throw the player out of the game for the extent of the series. You lose a player, but the team still gets to play. The other method just makes it easier to score.
They need to stop changing rules and just let the guys play!!! It's FOOTBALL, not freaking BALLET!!! :mad:
Angel said:
They need to stop changing rules and just let the guys play!!! It's FOOTBALL, not freaking BALLET!!! :mad:
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