Analysis: A few rule change proposals to allow for replay expansion on roughing calls would do nothing for Justin Fields.
Justin Fields will just need to hope his third year qualifies him for favored quarterback status normally accorded the NFL's veteran passers by league officials.
He's not going to get any help through rules changes.
The NFL owners meetings are Monday through Wednesday and two rules changes to be considered deal with personal fouls or roughing the passer. One proposed by the Detroit Lions expands the coaches' challenge system to include any personal foul called. Another proposed by the Rams makes roughing the passer calls subject to replay or review by a challenge.
What does this have to do with Justin Fields?
Anyone who watched Bears games last year and the year before realizes officials think Fields doesn't qualify for consideration under the rules the way a veteran quarterback does. In other words, they don't give him the benefit of the same roughing calls that they give to veteran quarterbacks.
It's been obvious.
Fields has complained about it. So have the Bears . In two seasons, two different coaching staffs have sent in one video after another to the league office of Fields being hit without flags called.
Perhaps it's because he runs a lot or for whatever reason, officials do not throw flags on hits he takes when they will throw them after comparable hits made against veteran quarterbacks.
The ultimate insult for Fields came against Pittsburgh in his rookie year when he was roughed in plain view of Tony Corrente twice without a call made but when something far less heinous occurred against Ben Roethlisberger, the flag flew.
Fields last year got beat up in the loss to Atlanta without penalties being called a few times, including one obvious call on Grady Jarrett.
Ndamukong Suh got his illegal licks in without penalty against Philadelphia and there were several others.
There are video compilations out of the illegal hits on Fields for those who doubt this.
It's not even debatable.
The 49ers' Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair, Houston's Micah McFadden, the Giants' Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dallas' Chauncey Golston were the unlucky five last year. They were the ones who actually got flagged and had calls walked off in four games for roughing up Fields. Four of those were in the first four games, then officials lost interest.
Not one time after the Oct. 30 Bears loss to Dallas, the one where Golston got flagged, did a defense get a penalty walked off for roughing up Fields either after he passed, when he slid or when he was carrying the ball.
Not once did it happen in the final nine games.
Considering how often Fields had the ball, how he held the ball too long when passing, ran with it downfield or bought time, the odds are that just by accident there would be at least one penalty called. None were.
So you might think these challenge/review proposals for roughing or unnecessary roughness would be good things from a Bears standpoint because they probably could throw the red flag five or six times a game when Fields gets hit.
You'd be thinking wrong.
These penalties proposed are only for calls already made on the field. They are changes designed to let a defense reverse a roughing call. If anything, they would make it tougher for Fields to get the benefit of a penalty.
The penalty must first be called on the field before it can be reversed with a challenge under these proposals.
There is no rule change proposed to let coaches ask for a reversal so that roughing-the-passer or unnecessary roughness are called.
All of these rule proposals would appear to be destined for the scrap heap , anyway. There hasn't been enough support according to reports.
On a side note, the Lions have another rule change proposal that would be a nightmare for football if approved, and that's an amendment to expand the replay official's jurisdiction and allow them to provide consultation regarding penalty assessment. That's all they need is the guys in striped shirts having discussions while the replay review is going on. They already take far too long to review challenges, and now they want to debate them?
It would all be enough to get football fans to quit watching and start following soccer. They should just call this the open-invitation-to-chaos rule.
Whatever, Fields is not going to benefit from any rule-change proposals.
He's simply going to have to be around long enough to command the attention and protection of officials the same way Aaron Rodgers did over two decades.
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