Todd Bowles tries to teach defensive players “the right way” to hit quarterbacks


NFL: OCT 09 Falcons at Buccaneers

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Tampa Bay’s win over the Falcons was preserved in part by a quick-trigger decision from referee Jerome Boger to penalize Atlanta defensive tackle Grady Jarrett for roughing the passer after Garrett performed a seemingly basic, non-vicious tackle of 45-year-old quarterback Tom Brady — who responded by trying to kick Jarrett in the nuts.

On Monday, coach Todd Bowles was asked by reporters whether he is concerned that calls like this will lead to a two-hand-touch style of football.

“Well, hopefully I won’t be in the league that long when they do come up with that decision, if they come up with that decision,” Bowles said. “You try to play it the right way. You try to do all the things the right way, and some things can’t be helped. Some things — a lot of things — can be helped. You don’t worry about it that much as long as you’re teaching it the right way and making sure they’re playing it the right way.”

On Sunday, Bowles said he believed Jarrett was penalized for slinging Brady toward the ground, similar to the play that resulted in Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion 11 nights ago. Boger had a chance to explain it that way when speaking to pool reporter Greg Auman after the game. Boger chose not to do so.

It may simply come down to Boger’s unique interpretation of the roughing-the-passer rule. Indeed, he called a questionable roughing penalty in the Week Five game between the Bills and Ravens, fueling Buffalo’s game-winning touchdown drive. And so teams need to be aware of the manner in which various referees apply the rules.

“We always try to be cognizant of what the officials are calling going into every week,” Bowles said. “They have different things they call every week [that] we try to be cognizant of. We remind them of [it], we talk about it during the week so we understand what they’re looking for. So we try to be cognizant of that, not just the quarterback but every call.”

It shouldn’t be that way. The various referees shouldn’t have different standards. But as long as they do, and as long as they let them, the coaches need to be aware of that, and act accordingly.


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