Get out the pitchforks! It’s time to go hunting for the latest “dirty player” discussion. This week, that has settled on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who was (rightfully) flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty on a hit to the head and neck region of Buffalo Bills safety Aaron Williams.
Landry was attempting to make a football play and block the safety who was looking to make a tackle on a running play. Unfortunately for Landry, he tried to go high with the block, and he ended up crushing Williams’ head with his shoulder pad, knocking the Bills’ safety to the ground, where he laid for several minutes. Eventually, he did get up, walk off the field, and then was taken to the hospital for testing. Williams was cleared and flew back to Buffalo with the team and was in team meetings earlier this week, though head coach Rex Ryan told the media that Williams was still under observation.
It makes it worse that Williams had to have next surgery last year and his career was in jeopardy.
Again, the hit to the head was wrong and Landry was flagged for it. He may be fined for it. He also clearly felt bad about the hit as he stood there after the play watching Williams. He apologized to Williams after the Bills trainers stood up the injured safety, and Landry added after the game that he would take back the hit if he could.
That does not stop the pitchforks from coming out.
In a discussion of the recent comments from NFL’s head of officiating Dean Blandino, in which he said of Landry’s hit, “It’s certainly a foul. It’s certainly something that we’ll review for potential discipline, but it’s still a football play, and it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game,” Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith had to rail against the NFL’s rules that do not make as much sense as college football’s targeting rules - which confuses fans almost as much as trying to define a catch in the NFL.
And, do we really need to have referees who cannot determine what is and what is not a catch trying to determine if a player “targeted” another player?
“That’s an area where college football’s rules make more sense than the NFL’s,” Smith wrote. “If there are going to be automatic ejections at all, an illegal hit to the head that sends a player to the hospital should be something that draws an automatic ejection. College football’s targeting rule has its problems, but it’s a rule that makes more sense than the NFL’s rule of ejecting a player for two taunting fouls, but letting a player stay in the game after a vicious and illegal hit to the head.”
At this point, we are now calling for any helmet-to-helmet or shoulder-to-helmet hit to immediately disqualify a player from the game. No discussion. No thought of “intent” - just get them out of the game because it was vicious. It was violent.
In a violent game.
Do horsecollar tackles - which are vicious and illegal - lead to immediate ejections?
What about roughing the kicker penalties when a player runs into the plant leg of a kicker? That seems vicious. It’s also illegal.
How about Vontaze Burfict stomping on LeGarrette Blount? That’s not even a football play. Should that be an immediate suspension, rather than a fine, since it is vicious, illegal, and not even a football play?
If Landry had gone low and taken out Williams’ knees, people would be up in arms over the “dirty” play to go low.
Again, Landry should have been flagged. He probably will be fined. It was a block that needed to be made, but not in the way it was made. At the end of the day, however, it was a football play. This was not a blindside hit on a player who was no where near the play.
What happened to “you need to keep your head on a swivel?”
"Yeah, it was totally unnecessary," Ryan told reporters on Monday after watching tape of Landry’s hit. "Did he target, did he launch? Yeah, he did all those. You can check every box you want. Was it a dirty hit? Yeah. It was unnecessary. And as I see it, it was unsportsmanlike."
Landry had received an unsportsmanlike conduct earlier in the game for spinning the football on the Bills sideline after a catch. He was tackled out of bounds, and jumped up and spun the ball. Anywhere else on the field, it would not have resulted in a flag, but the fact that Landry spun the ball where he was tackled, which happened to be on the Bills sideline, was deemed to have been Landry taunting the Bills by spinning the ball at their sideline. Under a new NFL rule this year, two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game leads to an ejection.
"I think maybe we need to look at our rules a little bit, where the college game may have it right," Ryan continued. "Maybe having a guy that targets or deliberately does something like that, maybe the right move is to eject the player from the game and maybe part of another game. That's how college does it. I also like the fact that they review it on video.”
Again, it was a bad hit. Landry should have hit Williams in the chest. It could have been just as devastating, especially if Landry knocked Williams back into the ground like he did here and Williams’ head bounced off the turf, but it would have been less “vicious.” Landry was clearly trying to make a football play, but he did it poorly in that instant. Landry did, however, hit Williams from the front, where you would assume Williams saw him coming, and it does appear Williams put up his hands at the last second when he saw Landry coming, so it was not a complete blindside, cheap shot. It was a football play that, unfortunately, was too high.
Was the flag warranted?
Is a fine warranted?
Should the NFL rules be changed and Landry have been ejected?
But, that does not stop this week’s case of OUTRAGE!
At least until next week’s OUTRAGE! takes over.