How ‘Bout This?
With Rob Gronkowski destroying his knee on a perfectly legal low hit, there is some rumbling in NFL circles about whether such hits should be, in fact, legal. Despite some defenders predicting that just this sort of injury would become more common with the new rule outlawing hits to the head and neck area on defenseless receivers, the league seemed unprepared for this new reality. And in response, some are calling for low hits, in addition to high hits, to be outlawed.
Should this come to pass, it would narrow the hittable area on receivers to either their feet or an approximately 2-foot section between their thighs and their chest. It would further empower offenses and increase the risk of injury to defensive players. The reasons that Brown’s safety TJ Ward hit Gronkowski as he did was because he knew going high could have resulted in a fine or penalty and going for his midsection would have risked injury to himself and/or been largely ineffective against the larger tight end (Ward weighs in at 200 lbs, Gronk at 265).
So here’s my question: Rather than focus on the hits that defenders put on offensive players, why not focus on offensive players putting themselves in “defenseless position” to begin with? Offensive teams have been attacking vertically up the middle of the field more this year because they knew defenders can’t lay the big shots there anymore. But this puts players’ knees at risk. So, why not bar vertical routes between the hashes? Or passes in which the receiver has to reach over his head? Or cap the weight of eligible receivers to 225 pounds?
What’s that, you say? That’d be too demanding of the offense? Would change the game too much? Is unfair? Well, so would making it virtually impossible for defensive players to do their jobs.