The Miami Dolphins lost key veteran DL William Hayes to a torn ACL during their win over the Oakland Raiders, and the way their head coach said Hayes was injured will only add fuel to the fiery controversy surrounding the NFL's new roughing the passer penalty.
“He was trying to not put his body weight on the quarterback and that happened,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase bluntly said Monday of Hayes' injury, via the Orlando Sentinel's Omar Kelly.
Hayes sacked Derek Carr in the second quarter Sunday, when he attempted to slide his body to the right of Carr's upon impact but lands awkwardly on his right leg. He immediately writhes in pain on the ground, favoring his right knee before being helped off the field and into the locker room with a pair of trainers.
In an effort to further protect quarterbacks, the NFL this season has instituted the unofficial "Anthony Barr rule" — or is it now the "Clay Matthews rule?" — that states a tackle "with all or most of the defender’s weight” on the passer" will now be flagged for roughing.
We've written since August, when Chiefs OLB Tanoh Kpassagnon said after he was flagged for roughing Bears QB Chase Daniel at Soldier Field in the third preseason game, "I guess they kind of want me to do something that a lot people think is physically impossible," what a complete disaster this would be for the league.
And we still might have undersold it.
There were an NFL-record 21 roughing-the-passer flags in the first two weeks, according to ESPN, none more controversial than the one levied to Matthews that gave Minnesota new life on its final drive of regulation en route to tying the Packers in overtime. The NFL has repeatedly doubled down on his penalties in the past two weeks, saying Matthews' violations were "textbook" examples of how not to tackle quarterbacks.
That's what it's all about — protecting the most important position, which is also the most compensated in a game dominated by passing — not protecting unheralded defensive linemen like Hayes. And it's just plain wrong.