clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bengals’ players and coaches don’t see new helmet contact rule as a huge change

New, comment

The Bengals players and coaches agree that they don’t think they have to change what they are doing after the NFL changed its rule to be more of a heads up league.

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL recently added on to its rule regarding helmet contact to no longer require the crown of the helmet to hit the helmet of another player.

It is now a penalty to use the crown of your helmet no matter where you hit. This could also result in an ejection after an in-game video review similar to the NCAA targeting system.

You would think this would have coaches and player shaking in their boots, but the overall response has been unusually calm.

“It’s what we always teach,” Marvin Lewis told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “You tackle with your eyes.”

That is an idea that has been spreading more and more across the NFL, but of course there are still a number of players who are running around trying to dislodge the balls from players.

Of course, the NFL knew they needed to take action after Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury off of what looked like a routine play against the Bengals. The only issue was Shazier put his head down ad put the crown of the helmet into the ball carrier.

After that, the NFL knew something needed to change. However coaches like Jim Haslett, who is in charge of the linebackers, are still confident in what they teach.

“It’s going back to when I played. Its how I was taught and what I teach,” Haslett said. “Head up. Keep the head up. Get out the old neck collars.”

The heads up movement has been spreading beyond the NFL for awhile. It seems more and more people are more aware of the dangers of not tackling what you can see can bring.

Whether it is concussion or spinal injuries, it is something to be concerned about. This affects NFL players and little league kids alike.

The major Bengals player that I think we will all have to wait and see how he reacts in-game is George Iloka. He is known for his big hits. His most memorable probably came last year during the same game as Shazier’s injury when he had a helmet to helmet shot with Antonio Brown in the end zone. It was something he was almost suspended over until it got reviewed.

The safety isn’t concerned though.

“What has always been illegal is illegal now,” Iloka said.

That response really doesn’t inspire confidence that he is going to change much about he plays. Iloka is a better deep safety than he gets credit. Teams very rarely hit home runs in the passing game, and that can be linked to Iloka’s role on the back end of the defense.

However, when it comes to playing the ball while it is the air, he is a real throwback safety who loves to deliver the hit instead of going for the pass. That was fine under the old rules, but now it seems the NFL is going to punish that style of play going forward.

The other side of the coin for the rule is that it supposedly also applies to the offensive line. That is something the Bengals are also not concerned about.

“It’s going to be really hard to regulate interior play,” Clint Boling said. “If they’re going to enforce that, I can promise you there’s a lot you can go find on tape and they weren’t on the cutup [of illegal and legal plays under the new rule that was sent to teams]. I haven’t heard anything about O-line play or D-line play. I don’t think we’re changing what we’re doing up front.

“It’s not like it’s a huge rule change. It’s just see what you hit. Now they’re going to be enforcing things like that. But that’s the way we’re taught.”

Boling is right. Officials already have a hard enough time calling things like holding consistently. It may end up being that unless it is blatant then there won’t be a flag. Boling’s coach also doesn’t think this will change how he teaches or be the end of the three-point stance.

“I don’t teach guys to head butt with the top of the crown. That’s dangerous. Head up and hands. See your target. Punch with your hands,” Frank Pollack said.

It is great that the Bengals don’t seem overly concerned about the change to rule. It will be interesting to see if they are right to be so confident in their teachings and play style.