Dan Quinn is the latest to question the application of the NFL’s new helmet rule.
Quinn was confident he understood the rule before the Falcons took the field Friday, but against the Jets, Atlanta running back Ito Smith drew a flag for lowering his head and making contact with his helmet on an opponent as he tried to throw a block.
“I knew that could happen,” Quinn said, via ProFootballTalk. “I was surprised it happened on a pass play on a blocker. …. So we knew it could happen on a receiver on a crack block or an offensive lineman maybe that was pulling, but maybe that’s one that, OK, that’s part of it.
“If that’s the way it’s going to be officiated, I think that’s good that it happened now, not only for our team but for other teams around the league to provide examples. I’m sure other teams are going to do what we are and keep showing examples to their clubs to make sure everybody sees it the same way.”
The rule, passed unanimously in late March, states:
It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. The player may be disqualified. Applies to any player anywhere on the field. The player may be disqualified.
During the preseason, officials will err on the side of caution when it comes to throwing the flag, according to referee Brad Allen.
“It’s an emphasis and I was disappointed to see our team, that we take so much pride in that, to see those fouls,” Quinn said. “But we’re not only going to show ours, we’re going to show ones from around the league this week so we have more teaching opportunities to do that. Clearly we have work to do in that area and we’ll devote the time to it because it’s that important.”